Hawaiian Ham & Swiss Slider

“Dinner’s ready when the smoke alarm goes off.”

I didn’t have a category labeled Party Food so I had to file this under Main Dish. We serve this at many casual parties and it is especially popular with roudy crowds watching televised ballgames. I’ve seen the recipe on dozens of websites and blogs but I decided to go straight to the source for my inspiration … so, this is the (very slightly modified) original recipe found on King’s Hawaiian website. These are the folks who make some of the greatest tasting bread products in the world. Many people think of Kona Coffee when you ask them to name a product from Hawaii but I immediately think of King’s Hawaiian Original Hawaiian Sweet Dinner Rolls.

Hawaiian Ham & Swiss Slider

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 30-35 min
Serving Info: 6 people

Ingredients:
12 slices of thin-slice deli honey ham (I use Black Forest Ham)
3 Slices of swiss cheese, cut into fourths
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I use Kewpie)
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1/2 cup butter melted
1/2 tablespoon Onion Powder
1/2 teaspoon worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 package (12 count) KING’S HAWAIIAN Original Hawaiian Sweet Dinner Rolls

Warm out of the oven!

Warm out of the oven!


Directions:
1. Cut rolls in half and spread mayo onto both sides of the rolls. Place a slice or two of ham and slice of swiss cheese in roll. Replace the top of the rolls and bunch them closely together into a baking dish.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together poppy seeds, dijon mustard, melted butter, onion powder and worcestershire sauce.
3. Pour sauce over the rolls, just covering the tops. Cover with foil and let sit for 10 minutes.
4. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes or until cheese is melted. Uncover and cook (watching them very carefully to avoid burning) for additional 2-5 minutes on Broil until tops are slightly browned and crisp. Serve warm.

TexMex Seasoning Mix

This is neither a sauce, gravy nor rub but that’s where it is categorized since I have no Seasoning category … yet.  I prefer to call it TexMex instead of Mexican and since it is my blog then it is TexMex!  There are hundreds of variations of this recipe on the Internet and I chose to slightly adapt one posted by a user named, awalde, in 2011 on Food.com.

Use this as an alternative to packaged taco seasoning.  Use it to flavor fried eggs.  It is especially good to season fish or shrimp to be used in seafood tacos.  If you prefer Low Sodium then eliminate the Salt altogether.

Ingredients

    • 1 teaspoon chili powder ( add more if you like)
    • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 1 teaspoon onion powder
    • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
    • 2 teaspoons paprika
    • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
    • 1/2 teaspoon smoked salt (or Sea Salt or Kosher Salt)
    • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
    • 1 pinch ground cinnamon
    • 1 pinch ground cloves

Directions

Mix together ingredients thoroughly in a bowl and store in a cool place in an airtight container.

MarTex Dry Rub

Dry rubs have been a mainstay in Texas for an awfully long time. The trail cooks on cattle drives used them for two primary reasons: first, as long as you kept them dry they would last indefinitely and, second, the rub would enhance the flavor of almost any cut of meat (and any kind of meat). I started using dry rub back in the early 1970’s when I was inducted into a BBQ cook crew in Arlington, Texas. Back then we’d rub down 500 to 1000 lbs of briskets with only salt & black pepper and throw them onto racks in the pit. Fifteen or so years later and mostly due to attrition I’d become the pit-boss (only we called it “chief cook & bottle washer”), and our crew started experimenting with some different dry rubs on both the beef briskets and the chickens. The results of using just salt & pepper had been fantastic … when we added additional ingredients such as paprika, onion powder & garlic powder, the outcome was phenomenal!

Today, I still rely heavily on salt, pepper, onion & garlic as my basics (only with a twist) as you will see in my recipe for MarTex Dry Rub. This dry rub can be used for savory pork, chicken or beef. If you prefer some sweet (with the savory) then you might add a 3/4 cup of Turbinado sugar to the recipe. Regardless of the rub recipe, always try to rub your meat down, seal it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for 2 to 12 hours before cooking.

Ingredients:
3 T Smoked Salt (regular or Kosher can be substituted)
1/2 T Black Pepper
1/2 T White Pepper (substitute Lemon Pepper if for Chicken)
1/2 T Chili Powder
1/2 T Oregano
1 T Smoked or Spanish Paprika (reg. Hungarian can be substituted)
1 T Onion Powder
1 T Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Dried Mustard Powder
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper (more if you like really spicy)
1/4 tsp Ginger

Optional Ingredients if you desire slightly sweet:
3/4 C Turbinado Sugar (Lt. Brown Sugar can be substituted)
1/2 tsp Cinnamon, ground

Store the dry rub in a tightly sealed glass jar and it will last indefinitely on your spice shelf.

Stovetop Bowtie Lasagna

“My head says gym but my heart says pasta.”

This recipe was inspired by and adapted from one by Bridget OConnor on her blog, What’s Cooking In The Burbs. I hope you’ll give her blog a visit because it is full of great recipes and her photography is just outstanding.

Every once in awhile I cook a new (to me) dish that I immediately know is going into the “Outstanding Comfort Food” category and this Stovetop Bowtie Lasagna is just such a dish! It is fun & easy to prepare and it will even feed a small army. I’m not too sure about this myself, but some of my family members say it is better warmed over as a leftover than it was when initially served…

Nutrition Alert!!! Bridgit’s original recipe named, Skillet Bowtie Lasagna, is low-fat & low-cal … when I adapted it to become part of my “comfort food category” the modified recipe, Stovetop Bowtie Lasagna, became NOT SO low-fat & low-cal … I just felt like you should hear that warning!

Stovetop Bowtie Lasagna

Stovetop Bowtie Lasagna


Stovetop Bowtie Lasagna – 8 to 10 servings

Ingredients:

1 lb Lean ground beef
2 tsps Crushed or Minced Garlic, divided
8 oz Sliced fresh mushrooms
2 T Olive Oil
16 oz Bowtie Pasta (not the mini-bowties)
24 oz Jar of pasta sauce
1 T Italian seasoning
¼ tsp White Pepper
¼ tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
½ cup Parmesan Cheese, grated
½ cup Mozzarella Cheese, grated
16 oz Cottage Cheese, small curd

Instructions:
Note – A really large pan (I use a 5-qt sauté pan) or a soup pot or even a Dutch oven will be needed to prepare this dish.
1. Cook the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain and set aside.
2. Brown the ground beef in 1 tsp of the garlic. Drain and set aside in a bowl.
3. Saute the mushrooms in the olive oil and the remaining tsp of garlic. When soft & browned, drain and return to your large pan.
4. Now add the pasta sauce, Italian seasoning, white pepper, red pepper flakes, the browned meat. Stir well. Over medium heat bring to a simmer for 10 minutes. While simmering, add the cooked pasta and the cottage cheese. Gently stir until all the ingredients are well blended.
5. Top with the mozzarella cheese, cover, reduce heat to low and cook for an additional 10 minutes at which time the mixture is bubbly and the cheese is melted.
6. Now you are ready to serve maybe using a little extra grated Parmesan and chopped fresh parsley to top of the dish.

White Chicken Lasagna Rollups

“Life is a combination of magic and pasta.” F. Fellini

This dish is like heaven on a plate! And like so many Italian pasta dishes, it is just as good, if not better, when you warm it up as a leftover meal.

I have run across this recipe on many websites and blogs so it certainly isn’t an “original”. The version I chose to use (with a few modifications) was on a website named Creme dela Crumb and the author is Tiffany. This is a very good website with tons of neat recipes so I encourage you to visit it when you can….here’s a link.

Last night I made this dish for the first time and found that I had no fresh parsley so I skipped that but I definitely think it is necessary for future meals.

Applying the chicken paste mixture to the noodle

Applying the chicken paste mixture to the noodle


Prep time 30 mins … Cook time 15 mins
Makes 8 individual servings (I thought 2 rollups each were a little too much)
Going into the oven

Going into the oven


Coming out of the oven

Coming out of the oven


Ingredients:

8 lasagna noodles, cooked according to package instructions
2 cups alfredo sauce (store-bought or homemade)
1 small rotisserie chicken or 2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 pkg (9 oz) chopped spinach, cooked, drained
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese + ½ cup, divided
4 oz. sun-dried tomatoes, julienne-cut or in pieces
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
salt and pepper to taste
optional: fresh parsley, finely chopped

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 375-degrees. Lightly grease a casserole dish with cooking spray.
2. Lay cooked lasagna noodles out in a single layer on a clean work surface ( for easy clean up use a sheet of parchment paper or wax paper).
3. In a bowl combine chicken, cream cheese, spinach, tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, 1 cup parmesan cheese, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper to taste and mix well using your hands.
4. Spread about ¼ cup (or more) of chicken mixture onto each of the lasagna noodles. Roll noodles up tightly.
5. Pour 3/4 cup of alfredo sauce into bottom of baking dish. Place each lasagna rollup side by side in the baking dish. Pour remaining alfredo sauce over rollups. Sprinkle with remaining parmesan cheese.
6. Bake for 15-20 minutes until cheese is melted. Sprinkle with fresh parsley if desired and serve warm.

Time to eat!

Time to eat!

Crockpot Pulled Chicken

“Cooking well doesn’t mean cooking fancy.”

This recipe is basically identical to that for Crockpot Pulled Pork except we use a whole chicken instead of a pork roast. Being the same recipe, I must therefore give Brian Gray at www.UrbanBohemian.com credit for kindly giving me permission to use his recipe as the inspiration for mine (which differs only slightly). I’ve made this recipe many times and it is always a crowd-pleaser. I usually compliment it with Alabama White BBQ Sauce and serve it on Hawaiian Sweet Bread Rolls or stuffed in steamed corn tortillas…some folks opt to eat the meat alone with no bread.

Bird in the bag.

Bird in the bag.


It is important to note that the MarTex Dry Rub (recipe below & elsewhere) gives the pulled chicken a savory taste … definitely not sweet. I prefer my pulled chicken savory so if you prefer sweet then I would suggest that you find a sweet dry rub and use it instead of the Texas Chicken Rub … you might even consider using the sweet version of Brian’s Butt Rub listed on the Pulled Pork recipe.

This recipe typically will serve 8 people and you’ll still have leftovers … sooo, if you are only feeding 4 to 6 people then you might want to use a smaller chicken!

Crockpot Pulled Pork with MarTex Dry Rub

Bird in the pot!

Bird in the pot!


1 6-8 pound whole Chicken fryer
2 medium Shallots cut in half long-wise
1 batch of MarTex Dry Rub (see recipe below & elsewhere)

After removing the neck and giblets (if applicable) use cold water to rinse the chicken and then dry it with paper towels. Although really messy, use your hands to coat the chicken evenly with the dry rub. Depending on the size of the chicken it may take 2 to 4 tablespoons of dry rub. Place the four pieces of shallot in the chicken body cavity.

Place the chicken in one of those really large zip-lock bags (or cover in plastic wrap) and let it chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours and, if possible, overnight is even better.

Completely cooked bird in the crockpot.

Completely cooked bird in the crockpot.


Remove the chicken from the bag and place it in a large crockpot with the cavity hole pointed upwards or in such a way that the pieces of shallot don’t fall out. DO NOT ADD WATER OR ANY LIQUID. Cook on high for 3 hours. After this initial period of cooking use two large forks and turn the chicken over in the crockpot (don’t worry about the shallot falling out now). Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking for an additional 3 hours.

Turn off the crockpot and remove the chicken into a large pan or baking dish … it will be falling apart so you may have to use one or two slotted spoons to get all the meat and solid pieces into the pan. While the contents of the pan are cooling off, pour the juice left in the crockpot through a strainer and save the juice. Now pick out all of the bone and other undesirable solids from the pan leaving only good, tender chunks of meat. Using two dinner forks, shred or tear the meat and place it back into the crockpot. Depending on how moist you want it, pour some of the juice back over the shredded chicken. Return the crockpot to the low setting and serve the pulled chicken warm.

Pulled chicken ready for a taco or sandwich or just slapped on the plate!

Pulled chicken ready for a taco or sandwich or just slapped on the plate!

MarTex Dry Rub

Ingredients:
3 T Smoked Salt (regular or Kosher can be substituted)
1/2 T Black Pepper
1/2 T White Pepper (substitute Lemon Pepper if for Chicken)
1/2 T Chili Powder
1/2 T Oregano
1 T Smoked or Spanish Paprika (reg. Hungarian can be substituted)
1 T Onion Powder
1 T Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Dried Mustard Powder
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper (more if you like really spicy)
1/4 tsp Ginger

Optional Ingredients if you desire slightly sweet:
3/4 C Turbinado Sugar (Lt. Brown Sugar can be substituted)
1/2 tsp Cinnamon, ground

Add all the ingredients to a small zip-lock plastic bag and shake it until the contents are well blended. What you don’t use can be left in the sealed bag for months.

Crockpot Pulled Pork

“Life’s a game … barbeque is serious!”

I’ve seen this recipe on many websites and blogs but Brian Gray at www.UrbanBohemian.com presents it better than most and kindly gave me permission to use his recipe as the inspiration for mine (which differs only slightly). I’ve made this recipe many times and it is always a crowd-pleaser. I usually compliment it with Alabama White BBQ Sauce and serve it on Hawaiian Sweet Bread Rolls or stuffed in steamed corn tortillas…some folks opt to eat the meat alone with no bread. Brian tells me that he found the dry rub recipe in a Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook and when I searched my cookbook library I found a similar recipe for both the dry rub and the pulled pork in a Cook’s Illustrated cookbook entitled, The Best Slow and Easy Recipes.

After 3 hours in the crock pot.

After 3 hours in the crock pot.

It is important to note that Brian’s Butt Rub (recipe below) makes the  pulled pork a little savory and sweet. If you want yours just savory then I suggest you use the MarTex Dry Rub recipe that is posted on this blog.

This recipe typically will serve a dozen people and you’ll still have leftovers … sooo, if you are only feeding 4 to 8 people then you might want to cut the roast size in half!

Crockpot Pulled Pork with Brian’s Butt Rub

1 6-7 pound pork shoulder roast (also called Boston Butt)
1 batch of Brian’s Butt Rub (see recipe below)

Using cold water, rinse the roast and then dry it with paper towels. Although really messy, use your hands to coat the roast evenly with the dry rub. Depending on the size of the roast it may take 2 to 4 tablespoons of dry rub.

Place the roast in one of those really large zip-lock bags (or cover in plastic wrap) and let it chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours and, if possible, overnight is even better.

Remove the roast from the bag and place it in a large crockpot. DO NOT ADD WATER OR ANY LIQUID. Cook on high for 3 or 4 hours. After this initial period of cooking use two large forks and turn the roast over in the crockpot. Reduce the heat to low and continue cooking for an additional 3 or 4 hours.

Just out of the crock pot, fully cooked and already falling apart.

Just out of the crock pot, fully cooked and already falling apart.

Turn off the crockpot and remove the roast into a large pan or baking dish … it will be falling apart so you may have to use one or two slotted spoons to get all the meat and solid pieces into the pan. While the contents of the pan are cooling off, pour the juice left in the crockpot through a strainer and save the juice. Now pick out all of the bone and other undesireable solids from the pan leaving only good, tender chunks of meat. Using two dinner forks, shred the meat and place it back into the crockpot. Depending on how moist you want it, pour some of the juice back over the shredded pork. Return the crockpot to the low setting and serve the pulled pork warm.

Let the shredding begin!

Let the shredding begin!

Brian’s Butt Rub
Note – This is the exact recipe as printed on Brian’s blog and it is almost identical to the one printed in a Cook’s Illustrated publication which Brian credits as his inspiration. This is a good recipe and I encourage you to try it … personally, I prefer, and I hope you’ll also try the dry rub recipe printed elsewhere on my blog as MarTex Dry Rub.

1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon ground white pepper
1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (1/2 will be mild, 2 will by extra spicy)
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
4 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon white sugar
2 tablespoons salt

Sandwiches topped with sauce and ready to enjoy.

Sandwiches topped with sauce and ready to enjoy.

Add all the ingredients to a small zip-lock plastic bag and shake it until the contents are well blended. You might want to make two batches at the same time … one sweet, one savory. What you don’t use can be left in the sealed bag for months.

Sherry Sauce or Gravy

This is my absolute favorite gravy sauce. I typically incorporate it when cooking Sherried Pork Chops or Sherried Chicken. It can be served over meatballs & noodles or using thin-sliced beef lunch meat serve as creamed chipped beef over toast. If all else fails, sop it up with french bread or sour dough bread.

Don’t fret about the alcohol in the Dry Sherry as it will all evaporate during cooking but the flavor will remain.

Ingredients:
1/4 tsp Lawry’s Seasoned Salt
1 T unsalted butter
1/2 cup chicken broth (low sodium)
1 can of Cream of Mushroom soup
1 cup Sour Cream
1/2 cup pale Dry Sherry

Instructions:
In a medium size pan, whisk all the ingredients together until well blended with a smooth consistency. Bring just to a boil and then cover, lower the temp and simmer for 30 minutes.

Taco Soup

“Soup is cuisine’s kindest course.” Virginia Woolf

Our family friend, Sandra Herring, gave us this recipe after serving it at one of my wife’s girls’ getaways at the lake house. I hope Sandra won’t mind too much that I have altered it just a bit because that’s something I do with almost all recipes … mostly to drive Karen crazy!

In the pot, ready to serve

In the pot, ready to serve


Ingredients:

1 lb Ground Meat, turkey, beef or chicken (I prefer lean turkey)
1 med Shallot, minced
1 can (11oz) White Shoepeg Corn, drained
1 can Black Beans, drained & washed
1 can Great Northern Beans, drained & washed
1 1/2 cups Chicken Broth, low sodium
1 can Tomatoes, Mexican-style
1 can Rotel Tomatoes, mild (or hot depending on your tastes)
1 pkg Ranch Dressing dry mix
1 pkg Taco mix, low sodium
1 tsp Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp Black Pepper, ground
1/2 tsp Odobo Mexican seasoning
1 T Cilantro, freeze-dried & chopped (this ingredient is Optional)
Too good to be true!

Too good to be true!


Instructions:
1. Cook/brown the ground meat with the shallot and drain
2. Unless you prefer large chunky diced tomatoes, I suggest you slightly chop up the tomatoes in a blender (just a spin or two)
3. Mix all the ingredients in a soup pot
4. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 30 minutes
5. Serve in soup bowls topped with a dollop of sour cream & sprinkled with grated cheese … tortilla chips on the side. Optional toppings include fresh chopped Cilantro and/or Tabasco sauce to the individual’s tastes.

Alabama White BBQ Sauce

I will be tarred & feathered by my East Texas neighbors if they find out that I encouraged others to use this recipe because sweet or tangy dark brownish-red BBQ sauce is the norm around in these parts (and all of Texas). This white delicacy is the perfect compliment spread over savory pulled pork or pulled chicken. It can also be used as a dipping sauce for chicken, pork, and even pizza bites and many appetizers! A lot of folks on the Internet have this recipe on their sites including the version that I chose with only a few, very slight alterations.

Prep time: 15 mins … Makes about 1.5 cups

Ingredients:
1 cup Mayonnaise (I suggest Hellmann’s (reg. or light) and/or (if you can find it) KewPie which is a Japanese mayonnaise
1 T Creole Mustard (again, can be hard to find so whole grain mustard is an okay substitute)
1 tsp Prepared Horseradish
1 clove Garlic, minced or crushed
1/2 tsp Black Pepper, fresh ground
1/4 cup White Vinegar
1/4 tsp Kosher Salt or, as a substitute, smoked salt
1/4 tsp Paprika, I use sweet Hungariansm-WhiBBQ

Instructions:
Combine all the ingredients in a small mixing bowl and whisk till well blended. Refrigerate at least 1 hour (I suggest two) to allow the flavors to develop. Keep refrigerated for up to one week in an airtight container.

I like to serve this sauce slightly warmed.