Crispy Ham and Cheese Waffles

I remember as a kid having breakfast for dinner, probably once a month or so. I loved it. I mean what was not to love? Pancakes with sausage, only to be covered with super sweet syrup? Yes, please. I do the same with my family, and I can say they get just as excited as I did. As I am not much a fan of pancakes, I am of waffles. Just like making pizza, I love to put simple spins on waffles. Sometimes I will do a bacon waffle, blueberry waffles, or even chocolate chip waffle, but as I am purging items in my freezer, I stumbled across some leftover Nueske’s ham, and decided I would set that out for the following day’s dinner. That’s when it came to me to make a ham and cheese waffle. My kids loved the bacon waffle, so I knew they would love this savory waffle. I was totally correct.

Ham and Cheese Waffle Recipe

Let’s get started.

  • 3 cups Aunt Jemima Complete Pancake Mix (or make your own)
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup of cooked ham, cut into small cubes
  • 1 1/2 cup of cheddar jack cheese, shredded
  • Cooking spray
  • syrup, optional
  • powdered sugar, optional

To a mixing bowl, add the pancake mix, eggs, butter, black pepper, and water. Mix until all the lumps have been worked out. Add in one cup of the cheese and ham, and fold it into the pancake batter.

Let this rest for about 5 minutes or so. In the meantime, heat up your waffle iron.

Ham and Cheese Waffles

Once the waffle iron is hot, spray both sides with cooking spray.

Ladle in the mixture to ensure that all segments are filled. Close and seal the iron, give a flip, and cook for about 5 minutes or so. Turn, and cook another couple of minutes. Open the waffle iron and make sure you are close to a golden brown. Once golden, sprinkle with a bit more cheese, close, and cook for a couple more minutes. This allows for this awesome crusty cheese that takes this waffle over the top. Did I mention I love baked and crispy cheese?

How to make ham and cheese waffles

Repeat with remaining waffles. To keep these warm and crisp, add the cooked waffles to a preheated 250 degree oven on a baking sheet.

To serve, add the waffle to a plate, drizzle with syrup, and serve alongside sausage or bacon.

The end result is an awesome, savory waffle that will bring a surprise to any kids face, heck, even an adults face. My kids devoured them, and even one of my son’s friends devoured them up as well. What’s not to love! Hope you enjoy!

Ham and Cheese Waffles
Author: 
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 5
 
Ingredients
  • 3 cups Aunt Jemima Pancake Mix (or make your own)
  • 2 cups of water
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • ½ tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 cup of cooked ham, cut into small cubes
  • 1½ cup of cheddar jack cheese, shredded
  • Cooking spray
  • syrup, optional
  • powdered sugar, optional
Instructions
  1. To a mixing bowl, add the pancake mix, eggs, butter, black pepper, and water. Mix until all the lumps have been worked out. Add in one cup of the cheese and ham, and fold it into the pancake batter.
  2. Let this rest for about 5 minutes or so. In the meantime, heat up your waffle iron.
  3. Once the waffle iron is hot, spray both sides with cooking spray.
  4. Ladle in the mixture to ensure that all segments are filled. Close and seal the iron, give a flip, and cook for about 5 minutes or so. Turn, and cook another couple of minutes. Open the waffle iron and make sure you are close to a golden brown. Once golden, sprinkle with a bit more cheese, close, and cook for a couple more minutes. This allows for this awesome crusty cheese that takes this waffle over the top.
  5. epeat with remaining waffles. To keep these warm and crisp, add the cooked waffles to a preheated 250 degree oven on a baking sheet.
  6. To serve, add the waffle to a plate, drizzle with syrup, and serve alongside sausage or bacon.

 

Som Tam with Vermicelli

If you have never had som tam, or commonly referred to as Thai papaya salad, then you are missing out in my opinion. It is probably one of my most, let’s say top 25 foods, favorite of all time. You never really see it on many menus, at least in my area, so it’s often best to gather up a handful of great Asian ingredients and attempt at making it your own. My wife probably thinks I’m a nut at times as I have a lot of Asian ingredients in my pantry and refrigerator, but when it ever comes time to whip up a great ethnic meal, I’m stocked and ready. Som tam is essentially a salad made from unripened papaya. You peel the exterior skin of the papaya, then shred the interior into thin strips, of which get lightly pounded with chilies, lime, garlic, shrimp, tomatoes and fish sauce. It’s the perfect balance of Thai flavors which result in spicy, sweet, sour, and savory. To me, this dish is so addicting, and delicious that it has you craving it like no other.

Som Tam with Vermicelli

With that said, the addition of rice vermicelli elevates this sam tam like no other. I don’t know why I’ve never used the vermicelli in this som tam before, but I don’t think I am going to look back. The noodles make this dish even better, and when you are not using sticky rice, then this is a perfect pairing.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 unripe green papaya, peeled, and shredded
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled
  • 4 Thai bird chilies, stems removed (add more/less for heat)
  • 1 tsp shrimp paste, or dried shrimp
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 whole lime, quartered
  • 2 tbsp palm sugar
  • 1 roma tomato, sliced
  • 1/2 lb rice vermicelli, cooked
  • 1/4 cup roasted peanuts, optional

Start by cooking your rice vermicelli. You can find this at your local Asian market. Cook until al dente, then drain, and rinse with cold water. Once cooled and drained, set aside into a bowl.

Som tam is typically made with an Asian mortar and pestle, and you can also pick this up at any local Asian market. It’s a standard in my house, not only for making som tam, but also fresh salsas on occasion.

Add the garlic, and chilies to the to bottom of the mortar. With the pestle, start mashing up the garlic and chilies, almost into a paste. Add the half of the lime, and continue to mash. Add the tomatoes, and lightly smash those as well. Use a spoon as you are mashing with the pestle, mixing along the way. Add the palm sugar, and shrimp paste, and continue to mix and mash. Add the shredded papaya, along with the fish sauce, and continue to lightly bruise the papaya, mixing along the way.

How to make som tam with noodles

When you are ready to serve, add a handful of the rice vermicelli to the bottom of a serving bowl, and top with the som tam mixture. Top with roasted peanuts. Use a fork and spoon to mix everything together, and then dig in.

Everything screams Thai with this recipe. Again, it’s spicy, sour, sweet, and overall, addicting. You want to talk about a great side dish, or heck, even main dish for that matter, then this is it. I remember turning my coworkers onto this som tam (without the vermicelli) a couple of years ago, and they have still talked about it to this day. Simple ingredients. Huge impact. Add the vermicelli next time you make som tam, and let me know what you think. Hope you enjoy!

Som Tam with Vermicelli
Author: 
Recipe type: Salads
Cuisine: Thai
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 1 unripe green papaya, peeled, and shredded
  • 1 clove of garlic, peeled
  • 4 Thai bird chilies, stems removed (add more/less for heat)
  • 1 tsp shrimp paste, or dried shrimp
  • 3 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 whole lime, quartered
  • 2 tbsp palm sugar
  • 1 roma tomato, sliced
  • ½ lb rice vermicelli, cooked
  • ¼ cup roasted peanuts, optional
Instructions
  1. Start by cooking your rice vermicelli. You can find this at your local Asian market. Cook until al dente, then drain, and rinse with cold water. Once cooled and drained, set aside into a bowl.
  2. Som tam is typically made with an Asian mortar and pestle, and you can also pick this up at any local Asian market. It’s a standard in my house, not only for making som tam, but also fresh salsas on occasion.
  3. Add the garlic, and chilies to the to bottom of the mortar. With the pestle, start mashing up the garlic and chilies, almost into a paste. Add the half of the lime, and continue to mash. Add the tomatoes, and lightly smash those as well. Use a spoon as you are mashing with the pestle, mixing along the way. Add the palm sugar, and shrimp paste, and continue to mix and mash. Add the shredded papaya, along with the fish sauce, and continue to lightly bruise the papaya, mixing along the way.
  4. When you are ready to serve, add a handful of the rice vermicelli to the bottom of a serving bowl, and top with the som tam mixture. Top with roasted peanuts. Use a fork and spoon to mix everything together, and then dig in.

 

Cream Cheese Lasagna

Are you the type of home cook that plans your meals ahead of time, or one that cooks on the fly? I lean more on cook on the fly type, but we do make an attempt, at least talk about it, to think ahead of what we want to eat throughout the week. My wife had suggested that she make a pan of lasagna and freeze it to be had later in the week, and well, I had nothing as again, I’m more on the fly as to what my mood is. With that said, while she was out running errands, I decided to make the lasagna for her, you know, because I’m that type of guy. I had everything in stock with the exception of one ingredient, and I was not about to head to the store. This is when the cream cheese came into play.

Cream Cheese Lasagna

We are typically a ricotta cheese mixture type of family when it comes to making the cheese sauce mixture for lasagna, however I have taken spins on different lasagnas such as this Italian Beef Lasagna with Giardiniera, as well as a Lasagna Carbonara, both of which were awesome, so I was anxious to see how the cream cheese would turn out.

I grabbed my helper, who loves lasagna, and showed him how to make this recipe as well. Trust me, I am not looking back to ricotta ever again.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 12 sheets of lasagna, cooked under al dente
  • 1/2 lb ground chuck
  • 1/2 lb Italian sausage
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus 3 tbsp
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 4 cups of marinara sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

Start by adding the sausage and beef to a pot, and cook it all the way through. Strain any fat, and return back to the stove. Add in your marinara, and give it a good stir. Season with the garlic, Italian seasoning, and some salt and pepper. Stir again.

Next, make your cheese sauce. To a mixing bowl, add the cream cheese, eggs, and 3/4 cup of parmesan cheese. Season with an additional pinch of salt and pepper, and the dried parsley. Give this a good mix until you have a smooth cheese sauce and everything is nicely incorporated.

How to make cream cheese lasagna

OK, get your lasagna pan out. You know you have one. Take a ladle of the marinara and meat sauce, and get a nice thin layer on the bottom of the pan. Add 3 sheets of the cooked lasagna sheets onto the bottom. Top with some of the cheese mixture, into a nice even layer. Sprinkle a bit of the mozzarella cheese over the top, then more of the meat sauce. You want nice, even layers, reserving enough of both meat and cheese sauce for more layers.

Top with 3 more sheets of pasta, more cheese sauce, a bit more mozzarella, then more meat sauce. Repeat again, making sure the top layer gets the remaining meat sauce. Cover with mozzarella cheese, sprinkle on the 2 tablespoons of the parmesan cheese, and take a look at that thing of beauty.

Spray a sheet of aluminum foil with cooking spray, and place that, spray side down, onto the top of the pan of lasagna. I find this helps to prevent the cheese from sticking to the foil.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and cook for 40 minutes. Uncover, and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is nice and golden, and some of the edges are a bit crispy.

Let this cool down a bit as it will be piping hot, then slice and serve.

The end result is a really, really good lasagna. I was always a fan of the standard ricotta cheese sauce, but this cream cheese just added this ever slight tang that I fell in love. Again, I will never turn back to the classic, it was that good.

Cream Cheese Lasagna
Author: 
Recipe type: Main Course
Cuisine: Italian
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
Ingredients
  • 12 sheets of lasagna, cooked under al dente
  • ½ lb ground chuck
  • ½ lb Italian sausage
  • ¾ cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus 3 tbsp
  • 8 oz cream cheese, softened
  • 2 whole eggs
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 4 cups of marinara sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
  • salt to taste
  • ½ tsp cracked black pepper
  • 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Instructions
  1. Start by adding the sausage and beef to a pot, and cook it all the way through. Strain any fat, and return back to the stove. Add in your marinara, and give it a good stir. Season with the garlic, Italian seasoning, and some salt and pepper. Stir again.
  2. Next, make your cheese sauce. To a mixing bowl, add the cream cheese, eggs, and ¾ cup of parmesan cheese. Season with an additional pinch of salt and pepper, and the dried parsley. Give this a good mix until you have a smooth cheese sauce and everything is nicely incorporated.
  3. OK, get your lasagna pan out. You know you have one. Take a ladle of the marinara and meat sauce, and get a nice thin layer on the bottom of the pan. Add 3 sheets of the cooked lasagna sheets onto the bottom. Top with some of the cheese mixture, into a nice even layer. Sprinkle a bit of the mozzarella cheese over the top, then more of the meat sauce. You want nice, even layers, reserving enough of both meat and cheese sauce for more layers.
  4. Top with 3 more sheets of pasta, more cheese sauce, a bit more mozzarella, then more meat sauce. Repeat again, making sure the top layer gets the remaining meat sauce. Cover with mozzarella cheese, sprinkle on the 2 tablespoons of the parmesan cheese, and take a look at that thing of beauty.
  5. Spray a sheet of aluminum foil with cooking spray, and place that, spray side down, onto the top of the pan of lasagna. I find this helps to prevent the cheese from sticking to the foil.
  6. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees, and cook for 40 minutes. Uncover, and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is nice and golden, and some of the edges are a bit crispy.
  7. Let this cool down a bit as it will be piping hot, then slice and serve.
  8. The end result is a really, really good lasagna. I was always a fan of the standard ricotta cheese sauce, but this cream cheese just added this ever slight tang that I fell in love. Again, I will never turn back to the classic, it was that good.

 

Beef Cheek Tacos

I have been thinking about making tongue tacos lately. I know, many might think of this being gross, however if you have never ordered ‘lengua’ from your local tacqueria, well you are missing out. The great thing about using other cuts of beef are that they are not only tender, but the beef flavor escalates into something extraordinary, and to me that is pretty awesome. So this past weekend when I was shopping for both Asian and Mexican ingredients, and devouring some great tacos from El Rey in Milwaukee, I decided to browse around and try to find tongue. They had pork tongue, but not beef, but with that said, I saw this great package of beef cheeks. I was all in.

How to make Beef Cheek Tacos

I was not going to let my family know what I was making, and as far as they knew, it was just beef. If I mentioned beef cheeks, I knew that they would probably hesitate, and back out from trying it. So the night before, I decided to brine it, as I would have if making beef tongue. Trust me on this one, find and make beef cheeks.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients for the Brine:

  • 6 cups of water
  • 1 lime, cut in half, squeezed
  • 1 orange, cut in half, squeezed
  • 1 whole guajillo chili, stem and seeds removed
  • 1 whole dried chipotle chili
  • 1 whole puya chili
  • 1/2 cup of sugar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 lbs of beef cheeks, fat trimmed

Ingredients for the tacos:

  • 2 cups of water or beef stock
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/2 avocado, diced
  • 1 whole lime, cut into quarters
  • warmed flour tortillas

Make your brine by adding everything but the beef cheeks to a stock pot. Bring to a simmer, stirring along the way, ensuring you dissolve the salt and sugar. Once dissolved, remove from the heat, and let it cool.

Beef Cheek Tacos

Add the beef cheeks to a large sealable bag and pour in the cooled brine. Seal and place in the refrigerator overnight.

The following day, pour out the brine, and add the beef cheeks to a large saute pan or dutch oven. Add about 2 cups of water or beef stock, bring to medium heat, cover, and cook for about 3 hours. Reduce the heat to a medium-low once it comes to a boil.

Beef Cheek Tacos

After 3 hours, remove the beef cheeks onto a plate, and let them cool. Once cooled, slice and then chop the beef cheeks.

When you are about ready to serve, heat a large skillet on medium-high heat and add in the oil. Add as much beef cheeks as you want, and cook until those beef cheeks get a nice sear on them. You want to get that great crispiness on it.

How to make beef cheek tacos

When you are ready to serve, add the beef cheeks to a warm and toasted tortilla, top with fresh cilantro, minced shallot, a bit of avocado and a squeeze of lime juice. Repeat.

My son, who is now getting into onions, and one that was lingering around when I was making these tacos, tried one (I was surprised as he was not a fan of avocado, but was convinced by my sell) and devoured it.  These beef cheek tacos are probably now my favorite, and I do not kid you when I say that. The texture was spot on, and the beefiness escalated from that of skirt or flank steak, plus a heck of a lot cheaper.  Give these a shot if you are looking from some really great beef tacos. Hope you enjoy!

Beef Cheek Tacos
Author: 
Recipe type: Tacos
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
 
Ingredients
  • Ingredients for the Brine:
  • 6 cups of water
  • 1 lime, cut in half, squeezed
  • 1 orange, cut in half, squeezed
  • 1 whole guajillo chili, stem and seeds removed
  • 1 whole dried chipotle chili
  • 1 whole puya chili
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • 1½ tbsp salt
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 2 lbs of beef cheeks, fat trimmed
  • Ingredients for the tacos:
  • cups of water or beef stock
  • Brined Beef Cheeks
  • tbsp canola oil
  • fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • shallot, minced
  • /2 avocado, diced
  • whole lime, cut into quarters
  • warmed flour tortillas
Instructions
  1. Make your brine by adding everything but the beef cheeks to a stock pot. Bring to a simmer, stirring along the ways, ensuring you dissolve the salt and sugar. Once dissolved, remove from the heat, and let it cool.
  2. Add the beef cheeks to a large sealable bag and pour in the cooled brine. Seal and place in the refrigerator overnight.
  3. The following day, pour out the brine, and add the beef cheeks to a large saute pan or dutch oven. Add about 2 cups of water or beef stock, bring to medium heat, cover, and cook for about 3 hours. Reduce the heat to a medium-low once it comes to a boil.
  4. After 3 hours, remove the beef cheeks onto a plate, and let them cool. Once cooled, slice and then chop the cheeks.
  5. When you are about ready to serve, heat a large skillet on medium-high heat and add in the oil. Add as much beef cheeks as you want, and cook until those beef cheeks get a nice sear on them. You want to get that great crispiness on it.
  6. When you are ready to serve, add the beef cheeks to a warm and toasted tortilla, top with fresh cilantro, minced shallot, a bit of avocado and a squeeze of lime juice. Repeat.