Parfait! Thousand Island Dressing – HoJo’s Style!

I have published several Thousand Island Salad Dressing recipes, here, here, and here, for a start, so, why revisit the concept?

I mean, I already have a recipe I consider to be The Best, but then…

I came across Ask Uncle Phaedrus, the Finder of Lost Recipes, and he hooked me up with the recipe for Howard Johnson’s Thousand Island Salad Dressing and Triple Decker Burger Sauce, and all bets were off; I knew I was going down this road again.

The original recipe mixed stuff up enough to make things interesting – scallions and capers and brandy? – but then, when I got to correcting the seasoning, everything came together to make what I think is a truly excellent salad dressing and burger sauce!

Oh, yeh. You are gonna want to try this on your burgers – like mebbe a Bloody Mary Burger fresh off the grill.

INGREDIENTS
•1 green onion, chopped
•2 tbsp capers, drained
•1/2 cup mayonnaise
•1 tbsp horseradish
•1/4 cup chili sauce
•2 tbsp chopped dill pickle
•1-1/2 tsp red wine or sherry vinegar
•3/8 tsp black pepper
•1/2 tsp sea salt
•1 tsp brandy
•1/2 tsp Cowboy Candy Juice

No Cowboy Candy Juice? Bummer. Try adding your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Pat the green onion and capers dry with paper towels, then coarsely chop.

Place in a mixing bowl with the horseradish, chili sauce, pickle, vinegar, black pepper, sea salt, and brandy and stir to blend.

Whisk in the mayonnaise, then give it a taste and correct the seasonings, if you think it needs it.

I thought a dab of something hot and sweet would be a good thing, so I stirred in the sugar brine from my sweet pickled jalapeños.

Better!

Transfer to a jar and stash in the fridge for a couple of hours before using to allow the flavors to blend.

Mebbe my new fave salad dressing and burger sauce.

Also, too, try it over asparagus salad.

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Bloody Mary Burgers

Around about these parts, folk take their Bloody Mary’s very seriously; order one and each bar will serve it with their own special twist, like sliders on sticks, sausage, shrimp, celery, and da google only knows what else sticking out of the top.

Oh, and there’ll probably be a teeny tiny bottle o’ beer on the side because, Wisconsin.

Thing is, although I love all of the parts of a Bloody Mary, I cannot drink one.

The tomato juice is, to me, too thick and cloying, but, when I came across the concept of Bloody Mary Hamburgers, I knew I had to try them!

I found several different recipes and suggestions, so took a bit from one, mixed it with pieces of another, then tossed everything up into the air and made my own, really quite tasty, version.

INGREDIENTS
Burger Mix:
•1 lb ground beef
•1 lb ground pork
•1/4 cup tomato paste
•2 tbsp prepared horseradish
•2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
•1 tbsp vodka
•1 tsp Cajun Power Spicy Garlic Pepper Sauce*
•2 tsp celery seeds
•1 tsp black pepper
•1 tsp Aleppo pepper

For cooking:
•Kosher salt
•Grape tomatoes, halved
•Sliced pickled cherry peppers
•Sliced peperoncini
•Cheese slices

*Or your favorite hot sauce, to taste.

Combine all the burger ingredients together using your hands or your stand mixer. I like the stand mixer because it seems to blend stuff more evenly.

Grab a good handful of the meat mixture and shape into burgers.

Full disclosure, I used one of those burger molds and ended up with nine patties, five of which I cooked and four I stashed in the freezer for later.

Sprinkle some Kosher salt in a large skillet and warm over medium high heat.

Add the burger patties, cherry peppers, tomatoes, and peperoncini and cook for three minutes or so, until the burgers have a nice crust on them,

Flip the burgers and cook for another three or four minutes.

Place a slice of cheese over each burger, turn off the heat, and cover the skillet.

Let rest until the cheese is nicely melted, then spoon the peppers and tomatoes over the top.

I served mine with Asparagus Salad on the side, topped with Honey Mustard Egg Salad.

Most of the recipes I came across called for a Thousand Island Dressing kind of sauce to drizzle over the burger and, in the spirit of all things retro and Mad Men, I actually found Howard Johnson’s Thousand Island Dressing (and Triple Decker Burger Secret Sauce) recipe.

Which I will happily share.

Tomorrow…

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Garlic Beer Bread

So, yesterday, we covered my discovery that:

I did not have a box of Bisquick in the pantry, but…

the interwebs provided me with a pretty simple to toss together home made biscuit mix recipe that, as you can see, worked a treat!

So, thanks again to the interwebs, and to the nice folk at Bisquick, from whom I, ermmm, adapted the recipe for beer bread.

The original recipe didn’t really have any seasoning, and called for lite beer, which, folk who know me, know that I do not do “lite” anything. The crap that gets added to stuff to make up for a few less calories is really kinda scary.

And besides; I am in shape.

Hey, pear is too a shape!

ANYwho, I added some garlic powder and other seasonings, and next time, because this was a pretty nice little loaf of bread, I think I might just crumble a couple of tablespoons of blue cheese into the batter, too.

Just because.

INGREDIENTS
Bread:
•1 tbsp softened butter
•3 cups biscuit mix (or Bisquick)
•1/3 cup sugar
•1 tsp garlic powder
•1 tsp dried parsley
•1 tsp Aleppo pepper
•12 oz  beer

Toppings:
•3 tbsp softened butter
Pizza Seasoning
•Italian Seasoning

Heat your oven to 375º and brush the tablespoon of softened butter over the bottom of a bread pan.

Whisk the biscuit mix together with the sugar, garlic powder, parsley, and Aleppo pepper until nicely blended.

Now, the nice folk at Bisquick are gonna tell you to add the beer and whisk until blended.

Don’t do it!

The batter is wicked thick and while, sure, the whisk will mix stuff, you are also gonna be running a knife through the whisk wires to work free a bunch of it stuck inside the wires.

Much more better, I think, to just stir together with a nice spatula or spoon.

However you got there, transfer the batter to the prepared bread pan and bursh the remaining softened butter over the top.

Sprinkle the pizza and Italian seasonings over the butter, then pop into the oven and bake until golden brown, about 50 minutes.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

The nice folk at Bisquick also note that this bread is nice toasted, but I think I would only try that if I had a toaster oven; my bread, while quite good, was a touch on the crumbly side, and I am not certain I would trust a slice to a regular toaster.

BTW, leftovers and crumbs, make for very nice croutons/salad or casserole sprinkles.

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Biscuit Mix

I was putting dinner together, a newer, slightly improved version of my Three Pigs Spaghetti Sauce (details to come), and thought that we really should have some garlic bread.

Thing was, I was not going to the market just for a loaf of bread, and it was too late to make my own French Bread.

What to do?

Bisquick Beer Bread!

Except…

I really do not make a lot of Bisquick recipes anymore – it’s not that we don’t like them, it is just that we try to watch our carb intake – so, that box of Bisquick I just knew I had in the pantry?

Tossed in one of my semi-annual clearing the shelves frenzy.

*sigh*

Isn’t that always the way? You don’t use something for, like, forever, so you get rid of it; only to be searching for it that very next week.

So, on to the interwebs, for this verr handy substitute recipe, which worked a treat!

INGREDIENTS
•4-1/2 cups flour
•2 tbsp baking powder
•1-1/2 tsp salt
•1 cup shortening (I used Crisco)

Note: I cut the recipe I found on line in half because I did not need that much mix. If you do, feel free to double.

Whisk the flour together with the salt and baking powder in a bowl, or, pulse a couple of times in your food processor fitted with the bread blade until nicely blended.

Add the shortening and pulse until the mix looks like coarse crumbs, or, cut into the flour mixture in a bowl with two knives, again until the mixture looks like coarse crumbs.

Transfer to a tightly covered container and stash in a cool spot or in the freezer for, oh, six months or so.

Come back tomorrow for this pretty tasty Beer and Garlic Bread recipe. It’s based on the one on Bisquick’s site, but…

I made a few tasty changes.

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Lamb Ragu With Pappardelle

We were catching up on TV shows and binge watching “Worst Cooks in America” on Food Network, and Rachael Ray was helping her contestant to make a lamb ragu over pappardelle.

It looked really good, so I went on the network’s web site and looked for the recipe.

Nuthin’

Sooo, I want elsewhere and found several nice options, that I reworked like this…

INGREDIENTS
•1 tbsp unsalted butter
•2 tbsp olive oil
•1 cup diced carrot
•1 cup diced celery
•2 cups diced onion
•2 cups sliced ‘shrooms
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•1 tsp dried rosemary
•1 tsp dried thyme
•1 tsp dried parsley
•1 tsp garlic powder
•1 tsp black pepper
•1 tsp Aleppo pepper
•1 tbsp tomato paste
•1/2 cup red wine
•28 oz can tomatoes
•1-1/2 cup chicken stock
•1/2 tsp Seasoned Salt
•1 tbsp Sherry Vinegar
•Ricotta cheese

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Melt the butter with one tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan (I used my Dutch oven).

Add the carrot, celery, and onions and cook for five minutes or so, until the veggies have softened a bit.

Add the ground lamb and seasonings, then cook, breaking the lamb up into small bits, until any pan liquids have been cooked off and the lamb is mostly cooked; about five or six more minutes.

Stir in the tomato paste and the wine and cook for another five minutes, until that liquid has been mostly cooked off, five more minutes.

Add the can of tomatoes, along with their juices, and the chicken stock.

Bring to a boil, partially cover the pot, then reduce the heat and simmer until the liquid is thickened a bit, 30 minutes.

While the sauce is reducing, heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil in another pan, then add the sliced ‘shrooms along with the tablespoon of Sherry Peppers Sauce.

Toss the ‘shrooms to coat well with the sauce and the oil and cook, stirring often, until most pan liquids have been cooked off and the ‘shrooms are nicely browned and tender.

Once the lamb sauce has reduced, stir in the ‘shrooms give the sauce a taste.

Add the Seasoned Salt, if you think it needs it and cook for a few minutes.

Give the ragu another taste.

I thought it still needed just a little sumpin’ sumpin’ so I stirred in the tablespoon of sherry vinegar.

Perfection!

Prepare your pappardelle according to package instructions.

Once cooked, drain, then stir some of the ragu into the pappardelle and toss to coat.

Note: I also stirred in some asparagus leftover from making a salad.

Serve the ragu and pappardelle in bowls with additional sauce spooned over and a nice spoonful of the Ricotta on top.

This was a wicked tasty, and really pretty straightforward dinner, and I would easily make this for company.

Sadly, it was just the two of us, so, we had leftovers.

Fortunately, those leftovers, tossed with a bit more of the sauce, a couple of tablespoons more ricotta, then topped with shredded Mozarella and Parmesan, then baked until heated through, made for a truly fine dinner two nights later.

Note: do not try to hold this sauce for much more than two, or mebbe three days in the fridge. Like all lamb dishes, the flavor gets a bit, ermmm, gamey (muttonish?) after a couple of days.

BTW, we totes enjoyed this dinner with one of our favorite red wines: Dragonette Cellars MJM. We visited the winery in the Santa Ynez Valley last spring, and eagerly look forward to our wine club deliveries from them. Check ’em out, you will not be disappointed.

Note: I did not use the MJM for the ragu. I opted for an also very nice, and, quite frankly, much less expensive Malbec.

Save the MJM for sipping with your ragu.

Not a lamb fan? No worries! Feel free to substitute ground beef, pork, chicken, turkey, or even Italian or Portuguese sausage. They will all work wonderfully with this sauce.

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Parfait! Corn Queso

A little over a year ago, we were at my sister’s house and I made a hot corn, cheese, and pickled jalapeño dip for a gathering. It was very popular so, when casting about for a munchie at a last minute dinner gathering, I thought I’d make the queso again.

It was a hoooge hit, and Rich thought it even better than the version I made at my sister’s.

I have to agree, but we have a slight disagreement as to exactly why this version was so very much better.

Rich believes that it was my sugar brined jalapeños – Cowboy Candy – that made the difference.

I posit that yes, the sweet heat of the jalapeños made a nice change from plain ole pickled jalapeños, but I think the other reason this was so very, very tasty was that, instead of using thawed frozen corn, I used kernels cut off of leftover grilled corn.

So. Two small changes to a recipe, big change in flavor. I highly recommend it.

INGREDIENTS
Grilled or Roasted Corn on the Cob:
•6 ears of corn, husk removed
•1/2 cup unsalted Irish butter, softened
•1/4 tsp chili powder
•1/4 tsp garlic powder
•1/4 tsp chives
•1/4 tsp celery salt
•1/4 tsp parsley
•1/4 tsp Aleppo pepper
•1/4 tsp sweet Hungarian paprika
•Aluminum foil

Mix the seasonings into the softened butter, then spread evenly over each ear of corn.

Wrap the corn in foil and bake at 350º for one hour, or grill until tender.

Enjoy your corn, then cut any leftovers off the cobs and stash in the fridge until you’re ready to make the queso.

Corn Queso:
•1 cup corn kernels
•1 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
•1/4 cup Cowboy Candy (or regular pickled jalapeños)
•1 tbsp mayonnaise
•1/2 tsp Cowboy Candy Juice (or hot sauce, to taste)

Heat your oven to 350º and combine all of the queso ingredients in a bowl until nicely mixed.

Transfer to a small baking dish and bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly – mebbe 30 minutes or so.

Serve with corn chips.

Note: the biggest complaint about this version was that there wasn’t more of it for the four of us gathered around the table; so I will most certainly double this recipe the next time I make it, perhaps doing two batches, warming the second while the first is being devoured.

Good stuff.

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Key Lime Pie Bars

This recipe came across my screen from the very nice folk at Pillsbury, and, since my husband loves him a citrus-y dessert, and the under-10 set I was going to be seeing later that week have pretty sophisticated palates for being, well, under 10, I figured that this would be a hoooge hit.

It was. With the husband, the under-10 set, and the no flour moms who gladly scraped off and ate the creamy key lime topping.

So, winner winner, right?

Well…

I will, happily make these again, but I might make a few changes – like make my own, from scratch, sugar cookies, and use real whipped cream, but, all in all, this was a tasty, pretty simple to make, and very popular treat.

INGREDIENTS
•1 pkg or roll sugar cookies, baked
•16 oz frozen whipped topping, thawed*
•2 (14 oz) cans sweetened condensed milk
•3/4 cup key lime juice
•2 tbsp grated lime zest
•2 (6 oz) containers key lime yogurt

*You know what we’re talking about, here; go ahead and use the name brand, if you like.

Note: the nice folk at Pillsbury called for using a roll of their sugar cookie dough and regular lime juice from six limes or so; but I figured “Hey! If this is supposed to be ‘easy,’ why should I be bothered with cracking open a roll and separating the cookies, when I can buy a pouch like the one above and have them pre-sorted?”

Then, “why juice all those limes when I can just buy a bottle of (very good) Key Lime Juice at the market?”

Seriously, Nellie & Joe’s Key West Lime Juice is good, and their web site has a lot of interesting recipes.

So, the tedious cracking of cookie rolls and juicing of limes dealt with, I thawed that whipped topping and baked some sugar cookies (according to package instructions), which turned out all right and were no trouble at all.

Until…

I popped the cooled cooked cookies into a zipper bag, brought out my meat mallet and commenced to making cookie crumbs.

And…

Nothin.’ These cookies were not crumbling in a satisfactory way at all.

Sooo…

I brought out the big guns, my Breville food processor, and proceeded to well and truly turn the cookies into nice, fine, crumbs.

Of course, not to be too nit-picky about it all, now I had to wash the food processor bowl and bits. Not a huge deal, by any means, but one more step to this “easy” recipe.

OK. Cookies crumbled, let us get to the assembly.

Stir one cup of the whipped topping into the cookie crumbs until well combined, then press into the bottom of an ungreased glass 13×9 inch pan.

Hmmm.

So, I was pressing the mixture and things were not going well.

So, quicklikeabunny, I grabbed the waxed paper out of the pantry and arrange it over the cookie mixture in the pan.

That did the trick! The base crust was well and truly spread, more or less evenly over the bottom of the pan.

Note: I do not mean to be disparaging of this recipe, or its merit as an “easy” one. I just want to prepare folk who try it of some of the things that came up as I was putting it all together. I freely admit to having difficulty with some recipes (the tot waffle debacle comes to mind) that other folk find simple and straightfoward; and so would like to point out when I have come across issues with a recipe. I more than likely will make these again, but, as I said at the top of this post, I will more than likely make my own, very good sugar cookies, using this recipe and skipping the jam bit, and then whipping real cream.

I’ll still use the Key West Lime Juice, though.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the sweetened condensed milk together with the key lime juice until thick and nicely smooth.

See? I did not mention yet another bowl, appliance, what-have-you that now needs washing up.

Fold the remaining whipped topping and the Key Lime yogurt into the milk and juice mixture, then spoon over the cookie crust and smooth out with a spatula.

Grate the lime zest evenly over the top, cover, and stash in the fridge for at least eight hours, until it is completely set.

One of the coolest things, to me, about the nice folk at Pillsbury calling for using a glass 13 x 9 baking pan is that most of them come with a cover now, which makes covering and storage a snap.

Gotta give credit where it’s due, after all.

So.

Key Lime Pie Bars.

Really pretty popular and, for all of my kvetching, not too, too bad to toss together.

And now that I think about it…

Hmmm. Lemon Pie Bars? Orange Cream Pie Bars? Interesting…

 

 

 

 

 

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Asparagus Salad

One of my very favorite salads is Asparagus, and I have a bunch of different toppings and additions and add-ons; but this particular combination; crisp tender asparagus, thinly sliced red onion, Honey Mustard Egg Salad, and slightly frizzled Italian cold cuts, all lightly topped with Swiss Style salad dressing, and crumbled blue cheese seems, to me, to be absolutely perfect.

A big platter of this salad is practically guaranteed to please dinner guests, but it’s also simple enough for everyday!

I use an asparagus pot, because we have asparagus a lot, but any large covered skillet or sauce pan will work.

Rinse your asparagus and cut about an inch off the bottom of each stem.

Note: you can, of course, toss these woody stems, but I like to stash ’em in a freezer bag to add an extra bang of flavor to stock for asparagus soup.

Bring a pot of water to a rolling bowl, then add one tablespoon of Kosher salt and the asparagus.

Cook for four or five minutes, until the asparagus is bright green.

Remove from the pot and plunge the asparagus into a large bowl of ice water. This will stop the spears from cooking any more, and the ice shock will lock in that lovely bright green color.

Remove the asparagus from the water and dry well. Stash in the fridge until needed.

Now, for the salad…

There is no real recipe, but I took this assortment of thinly sliced Mortadella, Genoa Salame, and Coppa and cooked ’em in a a skillet until nicely crisped. I then crumbled ’em and stashed ’em in a bowl until it was time to make the salad.

Salad Fixings and Toppings:
•Sliced asparagus
•Chopped Romaine lettuce
•Thinly sliced red onion
•Honey mustard egg salad
(or sliced hard cooked egg)
•Frizzled, crumbled cold cuts
•Crumbled blue cheese
•Swiss Style Salad Dressing
•Chopped toasted pecans
•Sliced pears

A real king among salads.

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Swiss Style Salad Dressing

I came across a discussion on the interwebs of a Swiss version of the traditional French Salad Dressing (not my creamier, tomato-y version) – made with mustard. The notes I found said that a brown mustard would be more traditionally “Swiss,” but I had some of my favorite Dijon already open and in the fridge, so I chose that instead.

I also added paprika and used my own Seasoned Salt in place of plain to give the dressing a bit more zip. It worked, but for the next batch, grated onion, I think.

INGREDIENTS
•1 tsp Seasoned Salt
•1 tsp sugar
•1-1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
•1/2 tsp black pepper
•1/2 tsp paprika
•1/2 cup olive oil
•1/2 cup canola oil
•1/4 cup cider vinegar – I used salad vinegar
•2 tbsp heavy cream

A note on the oils: most salad dressing recipes call for using all olive oil. I choose to split it half and half with canola oil because the blend helps to keep the dressing from solidifying in the fridge.

Making the dressing couldn’t be simpler; place all of the ingredients in a beaker and use your immersion blender to emulsify the dressing.

No immersion blender? No problem! Simply add the vinegar and seasonings to your blender jar and, with the blender running, slowly stream the oils through the hole in the lid.

Or… you could go old school and just whip the dressing together using a whisk.

Transfer the dressing to a covered jar and stash in the fridge until needed.

This was lovely drizzled over an asparagus salad with blue cheese and…

those details, tomorrow!

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Sausage Gravy

“So.” you ask yourself.

“Why would you want to share something as basic as sausage gravy?”

“Well” I reply, “I was not raised with the concept of this ‘sausage gravy’ thing, and so, when I set about to make a batch for Breakfast for Dinner, I had to look it up, and thought there might could be other folk out there who could do with a bit of guidance on the subject.” It also turns out to be quite tasty on Ham and Cheese Waffles.

INGREDIENTS
•12 oz tube pork sausage (I like the sage)
•2 tbsp flour
•2 cups milk
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*
•Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
•1 tsp dried parsley
•1 tsp Aleppo pepper

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste.

Cook the sausage in a large skillet over medium high heat until it is nicely cooked, and mebbe just a bit crispity in spots.

Using a slotted spoon, remove the cooked sausage from the pan and let rest in a bowl.

Add the flour to the sausage fat in the pan and cook, stirring constantly, for one minute.

Whisk the milk slowly into the flour in the pan, then lower the heat and simmer for two minutes more, until the gravy is nicely thickened.

Return the sausage to the pan and continue to cook on low until heated through.

Give it a taste.

Nice, right?

Still; it needs some seasoning.

I went with Sherry Peppers Sauce because, well, I add that stuff to just about everything but cake; and then went with black pepper, dried parsley – though fresh would be nice here, too – and Aleppo pepper. Feel free to use whichever additional seasonings you prefer.

Once the gravy was ready, I pulled some Ham and Cheese Waffles from the freezer and popped ’em in the toaster.

Fine breakfast for dinner!

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