Easy Kicked-Up Tomato Soup

You have those cans of tomato soup just sitting there in the pantry. It’s not bad soup. But those cans have been sitting there for a reason. That soups needs a little something. A little help to make it into great soup and not ‘just’ a can of soup. This easy kicked-up tomato soup is just that. Just add a few pantry and fridge ingredients and boom, great tomato soup for a cold day!
Easy Kicked-Up Tomato Soup

The diced tomatoes add a nice texture and freshness to this easy kicked-up tomato soup, but you can definitely leave them out. Let’s face it, at least here in the mid-west US good fresh tomatoes are impossible to find this time of year.

I like a little crunch to my soup to give it even more texture, so I added a few homemade croutons. Optional, but yummy.

Also try my creamy cheese and tomato soup.

Easy Kicked-Up Tomato Soup

Course Main
Cuisine American
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 cans condensed tomato soup 10.75 ounces
  • 1/4 cup sherry
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 3 tablespoons pesto
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan plus more for garnish
  • 1/2 cup fresh tomatoes diced
  • olive oil

Instructions

  • Add soup to a pot over medium heat along with 3 cups of water. Stir and heat.
  • Stir in the sherry, cream, pesto and Parmesan. Heat through.
  • Serve sprinkled with the tomatoes, a drizzle of oil and more Parmesan.

Poblano Pepper Powder on the Nesco Snackmaster Pro

After making a big ole batch of bell pepper powder using my dehydrator I decided I need to kick things up a bit. Not crazy over-the-top kicked up, but something a bit spicier. I’m a big fan of poblano peppers. They aren’t super hot and they have such great pepper flavor. I love them stuffed, roasted, sliced on a sandwich, however. And now, I love them dried. Poblano pepper powder on the Nesco Snackmaster Pro is perfect for seasoning my favorite dishes.
Poblano Pepper Powder on the Nesco Snackmaster ProDried poblanos can still pack a punch, so when you go to cutting them up make sure you wash your hands good (or use rubber gloves) when you’re done. And when you grind the dried peppers, watch out for that dust. It’ll wake you up and wake you up quick.

I keep my dried powders in Mason jars that I vacuum seal using an attachment for my sealer. They keep forever. You just need to remember to re-seal the jars after removing the powder to use in a dish.

You can also make bell pepper powder.

Poblano Pepper Powder on the Nesco Snackmaster Pro

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 16 hours
Total Time 16 hours 15 minutes
Author Mike

Ingredients

  • Poblano peppers I used a mix of 4 each of green, yellow, orange and red. I was able to fit approximately 2 peppers per Nesco Snackmaster Pro tray

Instructions

  • Set your dehydrator to 135 F.
  • Rinse the peppers. Remove the stems and seeds and cut into chunks. If you are not using screen trays you'll want to cut fairly large pieces so they do not fall between the trays.
  • Dehydrate for 12-16 hours. Rotate the trays every 2 hours if possible.
  • Once all the peppers are dry and a bit crisp remove and let cool.
  • Process the peppers in the grinder until they form a fine powder. If some pieces of pepper do not grind return them to the dehydrator for another hour or so until crisp.
  • Keep the powder in an air-tight container. I place mine in a Mason jar, cover it, then use a vacuum-sealer attachment specifically for jars to remove all of the air.

Corned Beef using Sous Vide

I’m very new to the world of sous vide. But, making corned beef using the technique is something I have been wanting to do for a long time. Usually, I smoke my corned beef to make ‘fauxstrami’, or as it is sometimes called, ‘cheater pastrami’. This time I was going for just classic corned beef flavor and super tender meat. And that’s what I got.

For 48 hours all I could think about was a Reuben sandwich. Sous vide corned beef on pumpernickel with a homemade Thousand Island dressing, kraut and Swiss cheese. Lunch was fantastic!

Corned Beef using Sous Vide

I don’t think that the spice packet added much flavor to the corned beef. I would actually consider it borderline optional. I did learn that if you are using it don’t place it directly on the meat. As the vacuum seals the bag, the spices get embedded in the corned beef. And there they will stay until you scrape them off, which isn’t fun. So I pour it into a corner of the bag. It does get mixed in with the liquid from the meat, so perhaps it did add a little flavor. It certainly was not overwhelming.

I think the technique I used for sous vide corned beef can be used as a starting point for making pastrami, so that’s the next thing I will try. After the 48 hour sous vide, I will prepare the corned beef as I do my homemade pastrami, then smoke it just long enough to get a little smoke flavor to it. I will certainly post my results!

Corned beef using Sous Vide

Cook Time 2 days
Author Mike

Ingredients

  • 3 pound corned beef with the spice packet

Instructions

  • Bring your sous vide setup to 140 F.
  • Remove the corned beef from the packaging and rinse well several times under cold water.
  • f you want to use the spice packet, open it and pour it into one corner of a large sealable bag.
  • Transfer the corned beef to the bag. Seal well. I prefer to double seal for long cooks.
  • Add the bag to the sous vide and cook for 48 hours.
  • Remove corned beef from water and let cool slightly before opening and slicing against the grain.

Blackened Fried Shrimp

I could probably eat a ton of these blackened fried shrimp. I was already badly addicted to fried shrimp. Then along came these beyond-delicious treats and my addiction somehow got worse. I didn’t even think that was possible. Yummy crunchy batter that has a great light spiciness to it. The batter isn’t too thick. It isn’t too thin. You really just can’t stop eating them.
Blackened Fried Shrimp

For a little extra kick, sprinkle the shrimp with more of the seasoning just after you remove them from the hot oil. Why go thru the trouble of making the blackened seasoning from scratch? That store-bought stuff is just way too salty for me. But you’re certainly free to use it.

Also try my Cajun fried shrimp.

Blackend Fried Shrimp

Course Appetizer or Main
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Author Mike

Ingredients

  • 1 pound large shrimp peeled, deveined
  • vegetable oil for frying

For the blackened seasoning (may make a bit more than you'll need)

  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

For the flour station

  • 1/2 cup self-rising flour
  • 2 teaspoons blackened seasoning from above

For the dipping station

  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce

Instructions

  • Place shrimp into a large bowl. Season with two teaspoons of the blackened seasoning and toss well.
  • Combine the flour and blackened seasoning. Dip the shrimp into the mixture and coat well. Transfer to a plate and place into the freezer for five minutes. Reserve the flour mixture.
  • Heat 3-4" of oil to 350 F in a deep fryer or Dutch oven.
  • Whisk together the egg, milk and hot sauce in a pie plate or shallow dish.
  • Dip the shrimp into the egg mixture and then return to the flour mixture to coat.
  • Shake off excess flour and fry 3-4 minutes or until golden brown, turning once.
  • Serve with your favorite tartar sauce or cocktail sauce.

Memphis-Style Muffuletta

Muffuletta sandwiches are what I would have on a deserted if I could choose only one food. I’d even go through the ‘trouble’ of making my own olive salad. When I first ran across this idea for a Memphis-style muffuletta I made a weird face. Huh? Why are you messing with my favorite? The answer was soon obvious: because this is really, really good. Similar to a muffuletta in many ways, but different too.
Memphis-Style Muffuletta

The creamy olive salad in this Memphis-style muffuletta is totally different than a traditional muffuletta mix but it has many of the same flavors. The artichoke hearts are a totally different twist and quite honestly I might find myself adding them to my homemade muffuletta olive salad too.Memphis-Style MuffulettaThe olive salad mix is also great on grilled hot dogs. If you prefer the original, try my more traditional muffuletta sandwich.

Memphis-Style Muffuletta

Course Main
Cuisine American
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup Italian salad dressing
  • 3/4 cup chopped green olives
  • 3/4 cup chopped black olives
  • 1/2 cup chopped artichoke hearts
  • 1 cup celery chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 " round loaf Italian bread a regular-shaped loaf works just fine too
  • Your favorite thin-sliced deli meats
  • American cheese slices

Instructions

  • Whisk together the mayonnaise and salad dressing.
  • Fold in the olives, artichoke and celery. Season with the pepper.
  • Slice bread horizontally. I like to remove some of the insides of the bread, but that's optional.
  • Spoon half of the olive mixture onto the bottom half of the bread.
  • Add the cheese and meats.
  • Top with the remaining olive mix and top bread half.
  • Wrap tightly in foil or plastic wrap.
  • Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before slicing and serving.

Meijer Bourbon Honey Mustard Wing Sauce

Is it possible for a bottled store-brand wing sauce to be too good? No, but Meijer Bourbon Honey Mustard wing sauce is about as good as you can get. All of the flavors are balanced and at just the right levels for me. Not too much bourbon flavor. Just the right honey sweetness. And the right mustardy vinegar kick. It’s different and delicious.
Meijer Bourbon Honey Mustard Wing Sauce
I contacted Meijer’s corporate office about the fact that I couldn’t find their Honey Bourbon wing sauce online. As of the time of this post they haven’t added it yet. So just head to your local Meijer and grab a bottle from the condiment section. While you’re there grab a few bottles of the other great Meijer wing sauces.

Also check out Meijer’s Sweet Chili, medium Buffalo and Mango Habanero wing sauces. They’re darned good too!

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.

Meijer Bourbon Honey Mustard Wing Sauce

Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Prep Time 4 hours
Cook Time 45 minutes
Total Time 4 hours 45 minutes
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients

Instructions

Cajun Fried Shrimp

My two biggest food obsessions? Chicken wings and fried shrimp. I could eat either one any time, any where. I’ve never had wings or shrimp that I didn’t absolutely love. Like these Cajun fried shrimp. Lightly crunchy. Stick-to-the-shrimp batter. A little heat. Perfectly cooked.Cajun Fried Shrimp

This is shrimp done up right. I served these Cajun fried shrimp with a crazy wonderful remoulade that has ended up being a shrimp-dipping staple in our house. It’s great for fries fish, too.

For that little extra ‘something’ sprinkle the shrimp lightly with Old Bay seasoning just before serving.

Also try my crispy fried shrimp and my blackened fried shrimp.

Cajun Fried Shrimp

Course Appetizer or Main
Cuisine Main
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Author Mike

Ingredients

  • Vegetable oil for frying
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon Creole mustard
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • 1/2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 1/2 pounds shrimp peeled and deveined
  • Spicy Remoulade Sauce recipe follows

For the Spicy Remoulade Sauce

  • 1 shallot finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons Creole mustard
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce
  • 1/2 medium lemon juices

Instructions

  • Heat 3-4" of oil to 350 F in a deep fryer or Dutch oven.
  • In a pie plate or shallow dish, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, and mustard.
  • In another pie plate or shallow dish, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, paprika, salt, cayenne and garlic powder.
  • Working in batches, add the shrimp to the flour mixture and coat well.
  • Shake off excess then place into the buttermilk mixture.
  • Shake off excess then return to the flour mixture, coating again.
  • Add to the hot oil and fry 3-4 minutes or until golden brown, turning once. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.
  • Serve with the spicy remoulade sauce.

For the Spicy Remoulade Sauce

  • Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Crispy Fried Shrimp

I can eat an embarrassing amount of crispy fried shrimp. My addiction to these little goodies started as a child. Maybe once every few months we would eat out at Sizzler. I would always get the fried shrimp. I would devour them.

That tradition lives on, believe me. That’s why I make them at home. In bigger batches. These crispy fried shrimp are nice and crispy and have a fantastic lightly savory flavor. No overpowering flavors here, you can still taste the wonderful shrimp.
Crispy Fried ShrimpI like to use shrimp that aren’t too big or too small when I make crispy fried shrimp. For me, 21-25 count (that means 21-25 shrimp are in a pound) are the perfect size. If I can get them, I use Louisiana Gulf Shrimp. I believe they have the best flavor but you can use whatever you prefer (or can find).

You can use pre-shelled and pre-deveined shrimp but give them a once-over before using to make sure that there aren’t any shell pieces or veins left. Just in case.

If you’re looking for something super-simple for dipping your delicious crispy fried shrimp, try my quick cocktail sauce.

Also try my Cajun fried shrimp.

Crispy Fried Shrimp

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Author Mike

Ingredients

  • 1 pound unshelled medium raw shrimp 21-25 count
  • 2 large eggs beaten
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups plain bread crumbs substitute Panko bread crumbs for even more crunch
  • 3 teaspoons Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil crushed
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley crushed
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • Vegetable oil for frying

Instructions

  • Remove the shells from the shrimp up to the tail section. Make an incision down the back and remove the vein. Rinse with cold water.
  • In a large bowl or pie plate combine the egg and milk.
  • Place the flour in another large bowl or pie plate.
  • And in another large bowl or pie plate place the bread crumbs, salt, basil, parsley, garlic and onion powders.
  • Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or deep fryer to 350 F.
  • Working in batches, coat the shrimp in the egg mixture. Shake off excess and then roll in flour.
  • Return shrimp to the egg mixture and coat again. Shake off excess and then roll in the bread crumb mixture, coating well.
  • Transfer to hot oil and fry until golden brown, 3-4 minutes. Remove to a paper towel-lined plate to let drain before serving.

Garlic-Q Wings

Alliger’s House of Wings has some of most awesome wing sauces I’ve ever had. I just cannot get enough of them. The other really cool thing about Alliger’s is that their website has simple recipes for combining their sauces to make new flavors. Like these Garlic-Q wings. It’s a wonderful combination of, you guessed it, garlic wing sauce and BBQ wing sauce! The garlic sauce by itself is pretty garlicky. Add in some BBQ wing sauce and you get this awesome new taste with just the perfect amount of spice.
Garlic-Q Wings
Garlic-Q wings are a great way to bring a little something different to the party. We’ve all had garlicky wings. We’ve all had BBQ wings. But Garlic-Q wings? Now, that’s new. And it’s so crazy easy to make!

Also try my chili garlic wings!

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.

Garlic-Q Wings

Course Appetizer
Cuisine American
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 45 minutes
Servings 6 servings

Ingredients

Instructions

Bloody Mary Rim Salt

I’m not a bartender or mixologist by any stretch of the imagination. If you asked me anything about mixed drinks you’d get a blank unknowing look in response. However, I can make two drinks that Anita does enjoy: a dirty martini and a Bloody Mary. Now, we’re not talking big-time fru-fru drinks here. My Bloody Mary isn’t like some you see on TV that are garnished with bacon, sliders and hot peppers or whatever. I keep it simple and tasty. And the key to my Bloody Mary is the rim salt. I make a big batch of it and keep it in the pantry, ready just in case someone requests a Bloody Mary.
Bloody Mary Rim Salt

Bloody Mary rim salt isn’t just for making drinks better, either. I love to sprinkle it on chicken wings hot out of the deep fryer or off the grill. It’s wonderfully different. It’s also great as a seasoning on grilled steaks.

Bloody Mary Rim Salt

Course Drinks
Prep Time 5 minutes
Servings 16 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon celery salt
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 tablespoon granulated garlic not garlic salt or garlic powder!
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon dry powdered ginger

Instructions

  • Combine all ingredients in a jar or sealable container. Shake to combine. Note: If you want a finer salt, place the salt into a spice grinder first and pulse a few times until the desired size is obtained.
  • To rim a glass, moisten the edge of your glass then dip into the salt.