There’s an app for that: Jalapeño Poppers

Everybody loves jalapeño poppers. They are just the right amount of spicy balanced with the right amount of creamy cheesiness, and by God they have bacon. Who could ask for anything more? Oh, a nice Raspberry-Merlot sauce to dip them in? Sure thing.

Jalapeño Popper

Ingredients

6 good sized jalapeño peppers
3 slices of smoked bacon (cut in half to make six pieces)
4 ounces softened cream cheese
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (Approximately)

Directions

Bring cream cheese to room temperature. Preheat oven to 425° F. Cook the bacon on a plate lined with paper towel in a microwave until almost crisp, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Wash and slice the jalapeños in half length-wise. Deseed the peppers also removing as much of the inner rib as possible. Blend the cream cheese and cheddar cheese together very well. Next, fill each half of the jalapeño with cream cheese and cheddar mixture. Place on baking sheet filling side up and top each pepper with a half slice of bacon. Bake in oven until cheese is bubbly, bacon is very crisp, and jalapeno is beginning to soften: approximately 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool a few minutes. Serve with Raspberry-Merlot sauce.

Raspberry-Merlot Sauce

Ingredients

2 packages frozen, unsweetened raspberries (about 4 cups)
1 ½ cups Merlot wine
1 cup sugar

Directions

In a medium sauce pan, combine all ingredients. Stir and bring to a boil over high heat. As soon as mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered until the mixture is thick and reduced to about 1 cup: about 30 minutes. Occasionally stir the sauce to prevent scorching. Allow to completely cool before serving.
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Use ham to make a great alternative to meatloaf: Ham Loaf

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Ham loaf with brown sugar glaze makes a great alternative to hamburger meatloaf.

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I’ve never been a big fan of meatloaf made with hamburger. It has always been somewhat bland. The great thing is, meatloaf doesn’t have to always be hamburger. Here is my recipe for a ham loaf. It calls for one pound of ground ham and one pound of ground pork. Check with your local butcher. The local Fareway here sells a ham loaf mixture that is a fifty-fifty blend of ham and pork. It saves a tremendous amount of time. The brown sugar glaze is a bonus.

Ingredients

2 Eggs beaten
½ C Milk
½ C (14 Crushed Saltine Crackers)
½ C Finely chopped onion
¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped
½ t dry mustard
1/8 t Black Pepper
1 lb Ground fully cooked Ham
1 lb Ground Pork

Glaze
½ C Packed Brown Sugar
2 T Apple cider vinegar
½ t Dry Mustard

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°. Combine eggs, milk, crushed crackers, onion, parsley, dry mustard, and pepper. Add ground ham and pork and mix well. Shape into loaf approximately 8″x4″ and place in a 8″x12″ glass baking pan. Make several scores on top of loaf to help catch glaze. Bake in 350° oven for 1 hour. For glaze; combine brown sugar, dry mustard and vinegar mixing well. Spoon glaze over loaf after initial hour of baking and then bake 20 minutes more basting with sauce occasionally.

It’s National Lasagna Day!

Sure it’s the end of July. It’s hot and humid. What better time to heat up the oven and kitchen with a pan of lasagna. But by the time the dish is finished cooking, the house will be filled with unbearable goodness and you’ll be more than ready to enjoy a big piece of lasagna. I’m sure of it.

Ingredients

1 lb. Italian sausage (casings removed)
1 C chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 14.5 oz can tomatoes (Italian Seasoned)
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1 6 oz can tomato paste
2 t dried basil crushed
1 t dried oregano crushed
¼ t Fresh ground pepper
6 dried lasagna noodles
1 egg beaten
1 15 oz container ricotta cheese
¼ C grated Parmesan cheese
3 T fresh parsley
1lb sliced or shredded mozzarella cheese
Shredded Parmesan cheese

Directions

For Sauce: Cook sausage in large saucepan along with onion and garlic until sausage is no longer pink. Drain fat if needed. Stir in undrained tomatoes, tomato sauce, tomato paste, basil, oregano and pepper. Bring to boil and reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes stirring occasionally.

Meanwhile: Cook noodles for 10 to 12 minutes or till tender but still firm. Drain and rinse with cold water. Drain well.

For Filling: combine egg, ricotta cheese, ¼ cup Parmesan cheese and parsley.

Layer half the cooked noodles in a two quart rectangular baking dish. Spread with half of the filling. Top with half the meat sauce and half the mozzarella cheese. Repeat layers. Sprinkle top with shredded Parmesan cheese.

Bake in 375° oven for 30 to 35 minutes or until heated through. Let stand 10 – 20 minutes before cutting and serving.

A Simple Summer Supper: Classic BLT and Grilled Iowa Sweet Corn

I love this time of year when the first of the tomatoes start coming on. My mouth begins to water for those red jewels of summer. Meals get more simple yet somehow more satisfying. For instance, tonight was a classic bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich along with fresh-picked, grilled Iowa sweet corn. Feel free to add other items to you BLT. One thing I like to add is a couple slices of avocado turning an BLT into a BLAT.

Classic Bacon, Lettuce, and Tomato (BLT)

Ingredients

4 slices Applewood smoked bacon
2 slices good, hearty whole-grain bread
slices of fresh, vine-ripened tomatoes
Romaine lettuce
Real mayonnaise

Directions

Fry the bacon to your desired crispness. Meanwhile, toast the bread. Assemble the sandwich. I prefer this order: slice of toast, mayonnaise, lettuce, bacon, tomato, and finally the second piece of toast. Doing this prevents two slippery items like the lettuce and tomato from being directly next to one another which can lead to a very messy sandwich.

Grilled Corn Recipe

Ingredients

sweet corn with husks on
softened butter
chili powder
coarse salt and black pepper

Instructions

Pull back the corn husks and remove as much of the silk as possible. Don’t worry about getting it all. What remains will typically burn off on the grill. Rub each ear of the corn with softened butter and then sprinkle each ear with salt, pepper and chili powder. I like to mix the three ingredients together prior to sprinkling it on the ears. Pull husks back to cover ears of corn. Grill the corn until they browned all over, turning as needed. The husks will typically become charred. Remove the corn from the grill, husk the corn, and serve at once.

This is the perfect summer supper in my opinion. Enjoy!

There’s an app for that: Prosciutto wrapped, cheese stuffed dates

This quick appetizer goes together very quickly. Your guests will be very impressed and think you spent way more time making them than you actually did.

Ingredients

2 ounces goat cheese, at room temperature
2 ounces) mascarpone cheese, a room temperature
¼ cup finely chopped fresh basil leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
16 dates, pitted
8 thin slices prosciutto, halved lengthwise
16 toothpicks or cocktail picks

Directions

In a small bowl, mix together the cheeses and basil and season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Gently pull the dates apart and stuff with about ½ teaspoon of the cheese mixture. Close the dates around the filling. Wrap a piece of prosciutto around each date and secure with a toothpick.

Arrange the stuffed dates on a platter and serve.

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

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Spaghetti alla Carbonara is another dish who’s origin is quite muddled. One story has the dish originating with Italian coal miners. There may be some truth as the Italian word carbonara means coal burner. Another story says the dish originated during World War II when the Italian people were given bacon and eggs from the US soldiers. This story holds merit as the recipe doesn’t appear in Italian cookbooks until after WWII.

Regardless of origin, this dish is one you will want to make again and again.

Ingredients

4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
4 oz. thinly sliced guanciale or pancetta cut into ½” pieces
2 tsp. freshly cracked black pepper, plus more to taste
1 ¾ cups finely grated Parmesan
1 egg plus 3 yolks
Kosher salt, to taste
1 lb. spaghetti

Instructions

Heat oil in a 10″ skillet over medium heat. Add guanciale or pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 6–8 minutes. Add pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, 2 minutes more. Blend together the egg and yolks with 1 and ½ cup of Parmesan; set aside. Transfer guanciale/pancetta  mixture to a large bowl and let cool slightly, you do not want the oil to begin cooking the eggs; add the Parmesan and egg and yolks mixture and stir to combine; set aside.

Meanwhile, bring a 6-qt. pot of salted water to a boil. Add pasta; cook until al dente, 8–10 minutes. Reserve 1 cup water; drain pasta and transfer it to guanciale mixture. Toss, adding pasta water a little at a time to make a creamy sauce. (You may not need the whole cup of water.) Season with salt and pepper; serve with remaining Parmesan.

Chili — Nothing like a good bowl of red on a cold winter day

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You can’t have just one bowl of this chili. I use shredded chuck roast and shredded pork roast instead of the ubiquitous hamburger. The beef and pork compliment each other and gives chili a flavor and mouth feel you just can’t get with ground beef. This is how chili should be made.

Chili

Ingredients

1.5 lbs Combination of shredded chuck roast and pork butt roast (Recipe follows)
1 T Olive Oil
1 Onion
4 T Hot Mexican Chili Powder
1 Can Fire Roasted Tomatoes with garlic
1 Can Mexican Styles Stewed Tomatoes
2 Cans Red Kidney Beans (Optional)
1 46 oz Can Tasty Tom (Spicy V8 will also work but Tasty Tom is better)

Directions

Heat olive oil in large stew pot. Add onion and chili powder and sauté until onion just begins to get tender. Side Note: Sautéing the chili powder along with the onions brings out a somewhat smokey flavor to the powder. Add shredded beef and heat until warm. Add tomatoes, beans and Tasty Tom. Heat until chili begins to bubble. Reduce heat and simmer for as long as you like.

Shredded Beef or Pork

Ingredients

beef roast or pork butt roast – trimmed of fat approximately 2 to 3 pounds
1 onion – coarsely chopped
4.5 oz jar minced garlic – unless you want to mince all that garlic
1 to 2 bay leaves
Oregano
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
Cumin
olive oil

Directions

Preheat the oven to 325F. Rub the beef thoroughly with olive oil. Generously season both sides of the roast with the salt, pepper, cumin, and oregano. Spread entire jar of minced garlic on top side of roast. Top with onion. Add bay leaves and wrap the meat in heavy-duty foil sealing the edges all around with tight crimps. Place the meat in a baking dish and bake for about 2 ½ to 3 hours, or until the beef is tender enough to fall apart. If you hear much sizzling as the meat cooks, turn the heat down.

When the beef is fork-tender, unwrap the top of the foil package, push aside
the onions, and cook another 5 to 10 minutes uncovered. Remove from oven and let the meat cool. Shred it into long shreds with a fork. Beef may be stored in the refrigerator (for up to a week) or frozen. I use this style of shredded beef and pork for tacos, burritos, chimichangas, chili, shepherd’s pie or any other recipe in place of ground meat.