Cajun Shrimp-Stuffed Poblano Peppers

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?
cajun-shrimp-stuffed-pobalno-peppersYou 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.

Cajun Shrimp-Stuffed Poblano Peppers
Author: 
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 2 large poblano peppers
  • 1/2 pound shrimp, raw or pre-cooked, 24-30 count, peeled, deveined
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil (if you are using raw shrimp)
  • 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning
  • 1/4 cup ounces feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil, crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • Cilantro, chopped, for garnish
Instructions
  1. Note: You can use pre-cooked shrimp if you desire. Just toss the shrimp with the Cajun seasoning and do not cook.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  3. Cut the peppers in half lengthwise. Remove any stems or seeds.
  4. If using cooked shrimp, toss the shrimp with the Cajun seasoning in a large bowl.
  5. If using raw shrimp, heat the oil over medium-high heat in a skillet. Add the shrimp, sprinkle with the seasoning, and cook, turning, until done, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
  6. Add the cheeses, basil and hot sauce to the shrimp Stir.
  7. Transfer shrimp mixture to the poblanos and place on a baking dish.
  8. Place in oven and bake 30 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the peppers are softened.
  9. Serve garnished with chopped cilantro.

 

 

Stromboli Sandwich

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.
stromboli-sandwichNext 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.

Stromboli Sandwich
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 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
  • Vienna bread
  • Shredded mozzarella cheese
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. In a large skillet, crumble the beef and brown along with the onion. Drain any excess fat.
  3. Add the mushrooms and bell pepper and cook for 3-5 minutes or until they are just starting to get soft.
  4. 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.
  5. Cut bread in half lengthwise and scoop out as much of the bread as you can.
  6. Transfer bread to a sheet of aluminum foil.
  7. Fill insides with the meat mixture.
  8. Top with cheese and cover in foil.
  9. Place on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes until the cheese is melted.
  10. Serve with lots of napkins.

 

Giardiniera Meatball Sandwich

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.
Giardiniera Meatball SandwichI 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.

Giardiniera Meatball Sandwich
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 1 12" loaf French bread, sliced horizontally
  • 10-12 cooked meatballs, warmed (if using frozen store-bought, bake per package instructions first)
  • 4 slices Provolone cheese
  • Giardiniera, chopped
  • 1 roasted red bell pepper, sliced thin
Instructions
  1. Hollow out as much of the bread as you can to make room for the meatballs and toppings.
  2. Place on a sheet pan under the broiler for a minute or two until the bread starts to get crunchy.
  3. Add cheese and meatballs. Place under the broiler for another minute or two until the cheese melts.
  4. Add Giardiniera and bell pepper strips.
  5. Slice into two 6" sandwiches and serve.

 

McIlhenny’s Chili

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.

McIlhenny's Chili
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 pounds chuck, trimmed of fat, cut into 1" cubes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large white onions, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons Tabasco Pepper Sauce
  • 4-5 cups beef broth, depending on how thick or thin you like your chili
  • 4 ounce can chopped green chilies
  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • Your favorite chili toppings
Instructions
  1. Working in batches, heat a tablespoon or so of the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season the meat and brown on all sides. Remove to a plate.
  2. Add the onion to the pot and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.
  3. Add the garlic. Stir and cook another minute.
  4. Add the chili powder, cumin, salt and hot sauce. Stir and cook for 1 minute.
  5. Add the broth and canned chiles. Bring to a boil.
  6. Add the cooked beef along with any accumulated juices. Reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for 1 1/2 - 2 hours or until the beef is tender.
  7. Serve with cooked rice and desired toppings.

 

Italian Sausage Sandwiches Version 3.0

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.

Italian Sausage Sandwiches Version 3.0
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10 sandwiches
 
Ingredients
  • 4 cups pizza sauce
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • Vegetable oil
  • 10 hot Italian sausages, in casings
  • 1 large green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 large red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 large orange bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 medium sweet onions, sliced
  • 8 ounces fresh mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 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
Instructions
  1. Place the pizza and tomato sauces into a large pot over medium heat.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Season with salt and pepper, Italian seasoning and red pepper flake.
  5. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5-6 hours, stirring occasionally.
  6. 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.
  7. Cut bread into lengths a tad shorter than the sausages.
  8. Add meat and top with sauce and a little bit of the vegetables.
  9. Top with cheese and place on a sheet pan under the oven broiler just long enough to melt the cheese.

Italian Hoagie

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.
Italian HoagieI 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.

Italian Hoagie
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
 
Ingredients
For the hoagie
  • 4 12" Hoagie rolls
  • 1/2 pound thinly sliced deli ham
  • 1/2 pound thinly sliced capicola
  • 1/2 pound thinly sliced Genoa salami
  • 1/2 pound Provolone cheese
  • Hoagie dressing, from below
  • 4 cups shredded iceberg lettuce
  • 2 tomatoes, sliced thin
  • 1 medium white onion, sliced thin (soak in cold water first if desired)
  • Hot or sweet peppers
For the hoagie dressing (makes enough for 4 or more hoagies)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Instructions
For the hoagie
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Slice bread rolls horizontally. Do not cut all the way through.
  3. Brush insides of bread with dressing. Add meats and cheese.
  4. Wrap in foil and place in oven for 12 minutes or until hot and the bread is a little crunchy.
  5. Remove from foil. Add remaining ingredients, plus a little more of the dressing.
  6. Serve.
For the hoagie dressing
  1. Whisk together all ingredients.

 

Smoked Brisket Texas Chili

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.
smoked-brisket-texas-chiliNow, 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.

Smoked Brisket Texas Chili
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 8 dried chiles (I used guajillo, but just about any chile will work)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped white onion
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups beef broth, plus more if needed
  • 2 cups water, plus more as needed
  • 2 tablespoons masa harina (if you don't have any masa, take a handful of plain tortilla chips and grind them in a food processor or by hand using a mortar and pestle)
  • 2 pounds smoked brisket, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
  • Garnishes (sour cream, roasted jalapenos, grilled lime edges, etc)
Instructions
  1. Toast the chiles in a hot skillet over medium-high heat 2-3 minutes per side.
  2. Remove to a large bowl and cover in hot water. Let sit for 30 minutes, turning once.
  3. Remove chiles (do not discard the water). Cut off the stems and remove the seeds.
  4. Chop lightly and transfer to a food processor.
  5. Add the cumin, pepper and a few pinches of salt, along with 1/4 cup of the soaking liquid. Process until smooth. If needed add a bit more of the water.
  6. Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat.
  7. Add the onion and cook for 3 minutes.
  8. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
  9. Add the broth and water. Bring to a simmer.
  10. Whisk in the masa harina and add the processed chile paste.
  11. Add the brisket and stir. Cover.
  12. Let simmer for 2 hours or until the beef is tender, adding more broth if necessary.
  13. Stir in the brown sugar and vinegar and add more salt to taste. Simmer another 10 minutes.
  14. Serve with the desired garnishes.

 

Oklahoma Fried Onion Burgers

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.
Oklahoma Fried Onion BurgersI 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.

Oklahoma Fried Onion Burgers
Author: 
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: American
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
 
Ingredients
  • 1 large white onion, peeled, halved, sliced thin
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 4 slices American cheese
  • Mayonnaise
  • Prepared yellow mustard
  • Pickle slices
  • 4 hamburger buns
Instructions
  1. Place the onion slices in a large bowl.
  2. Toss with 1 teaspoon of salt and let rest for 30 minutes to extract as much liquid out of the onions as possible.
  3. 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.
  4. Divide the onion slices into 4 equal piles on a cutting board or flat surface.
  5. Divide the beef into 4 patties and form into balls.
  6. 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.
  7. Season patties with salt and pepper.
  8. Heat up a griddle or cast iron skillet on your stove top or grill over medium-high heat.
  9. Add the butter and swirl it around to coat the griddle or skillet.
  10. 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.
  11. Flip and continue cooking until the burgers are done, about 2 more minutes.
  12. Top with cheese and remove.
  13. Toast the buns, if desired.
  14. Add the patties, mayonnaise, mustard, and pickles.