Ham and Peas Mac and Cheese

Mac and cheese has got to be a top ten comfort food. I’ve made all sorts of different kinds of mac and cheese in my lifetime, and granted that it is summer time here in Wisconsin that did not stop me from making another delicious batch of mac and cheese. This time it was ham and peas mac and cheese. Ham and peas are a perfect match, and as I was digging through my freezer to purge things that I have stored for the past couple of months, I decided it was the ham that was going to get purged. This ham and peas mac and cheese is not only a great pairing, but it ended up being one great one pot meal.

Ham and Peas Mac and Cheese Recipe
Ham and Peas Mac and Cheese Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 3 cups of cooked ham, chopped
  • 1 cup of onion, diced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika powder
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 5 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups of milk
  • 1 tbsp Tabasco, optional
  • 3 cups of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 3 slices of American cheese, optional
  • 1 cup of frozen peas
  • 1 lb penne pasta, cooked until al dente

Start by adding the canola oil to a large pot, and cook on medium heat for a minute or so. Toss in the onion, garlic, salt, pepper, paprika, Tabasco, and cooked ham. Cook until the ham gets a bit crisp, and the onions cook through, about 7 minutes.

During that time, cook your pasta.

In a sauce pot, add the butter, and let it get melted on medium heat. Once melted, add the flour, and using a whisk or wooden spoon, cook the flour for a few minutes. Once the flour is a bit golden in color, this is when you want to add in your milk, continuing to stir, mixing in the roux and thickening it. Once the sauce thickens, add in the cheeses and let that melt, making the cheese sauce.

ham-peas-mac-cheese-ingredients

Drain the pasta, and add it to your ham mixture. Add in the cheese sauce, along with the frozen peas, and give it a great stir. Once everything is nicely incorporated, cover, and place into a preheated 350 degree oven for 30 minutes.

Remove and serve. The end result is nothing but pure comfort, and yes I did crumble goldfish on mine. That’s the type of mood I was in that day, and boy were they ever delicious.  Hope you enjoy!

Ham, Bacon, and Potato Quiche

Are you like me, and love a good hearty breakfast? Well if you are, then this one is going to be right up your alley. I love a good quiche because it is something that not only is great for breakfast, but it makes for a great item for brunch, lunch, or dinner. It wasn’t long ago when I decided to come up with this recipe as I was the first one to awake on Sunday morning, and get things going for breakfast. I figured I would make this ham, bacon, and potato quiche and get a good hearty breakfast in for my wife and kids. I knew that most likely my oldest, which was true, would not even consider this as he does not like eggs, but the others would most likely devour it.

Ham, Bacon, and Potato Quiche Recipe
Ham, Bacon, and Potato Quiche Recipe

This whole recipe really started from the idea of cooking bacon, and crisping up thinly sliced potatoes in that bacon fat. Sometimes that is all it takes. Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 6 slices of bacon, cooked until crisp, chopped
  • 1 russet potato, skin on, thinly sliced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 cup of heavy cream
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup of deli ham, chopped
  • 1 cup of 1 cup peas

Start by cooking your bacon on medium heat in a large skillet. The beauty about this one is that everything is done in the skillet. Once the bacon is cooked to your liking, remove the bacon and chop it. Reserve half of the bacon fat. Add in the ham, onions, and cook for a few minutes. Remove the ham and onions from the skillet with a slotted spoon, and set aside.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.

Return the skillet to the heat, reserve any leftover bacon fat, and add the butter. Lay down the thinly sliced potatoes, covering the bottom of the skillet.  Cook the potatoes, lifting them up from time to time, until they are nice and crisp.

During this time, beat the eggs with the heavy cream. Add in the crumbled bacon, onion, ham, peas, and cheddar cheese. Mix gently with a fork, then add to the top of the potatoes in the skillet.

Place the skillet in the oven and cook for about 35-45 minutes or until the eggs are cooked through and lightly browned on top.

Slice the quiche into pie like slices and dig in. This is definitely a hearty meal, and one that is packed full of flavor. You can eat this warm, or even at room temperature, which also lends to be great for leftovers, and what is not to love about any of that! Hope you enjoy.

Mexican Alambre

You know when you have that craving for tacos, or better yet fajitas? Yeah, I know, I pretty much have that craving all of the time! This dish, known as alambre, is a popular Mexican dish that should be on everyone’s menu, but is not. This Mexican alambre is a mix of beef, bacon, peppers, and cheese, topped with avocados and limes, only to be folded into nicely grilled flour tortillas. This feeds an army and is packed full of awesome flavors and textures, that I’m positive will have you making this more than once.

Mexican Alambre Recipe
Mexican Alambre Recipe

Alambre, in Spanish, literally translates to ‘wire’ and I suspect that it could be due to the fact that meats and vegetables were skewered and grilled before getting chopped up and folded into tacos. Regardless, I simply throw things on the grill to get a nice char before slicing and serving.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 6 slices of bacon,  cut into 1 inch slices
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 whole white onion
  • 4 jalapeno peppers
  • 2 whole roma tomatoes, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 bunch fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 2 lbs bottom round beef, thinly sliced
  • 2 morita chili pods, stems and seeds removed
  • 2 puya chili pods, stems and seeds removed
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups of water
  • flour tortillas, warmed
  • avocados, slided
  • 2 cups of Oaxaca cheese
  • Salt, to taste
  • sour cream, optional
  • sliced limes, optional

Start by marinating your beef. I like to do this overnight, but 4 or more hours should be sufficient.

To a small sauce pan, add the water, the garlic, and the 4 chili pods. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and cook for about 20 minutes or until the pods are softened. Let the mixture cool. Take the pods, garlic, and about a cup of the water and blend until you have a fine puree.  Pour this mixture into a sealable bag, throw in a generous pinch or two of salt, and add in the beef, seal, and give the beef a nice massage to ensure the marinade penetrates the beef. Place in the refrigerator until you are ready to grill.

Mexican Alambre
Mexican Alambre

When you are ready to start making this, you have a couple of options. First is to grill the vegetables and beef (which is what I prefer), or you can cook everything in one big wok or skillet. (Hint: chose the grill)

Heat up your grill. I like to use a combination of charcoal and cherry wood as the smokiness really gets into the great flavor of the beef.

While the grill heats up, add the bacon to a large skillet, and cook on low heat, adding about 1/4 cup of water during the cooking process. You don’t want the bacon to be fully crisp as you normally might eat for breakfast, but somewhere between soft and crisp. Continue cooking the bacon on low heat, reserving some of the fat.

Next, add the whole bell peppers, onion, and jalapeno peppers to the grill, cooking over the coals. Your goal here is to get a nice char, while not fully cooking the peppers. Once you get a bit of the char, remove them from the grill, and take them inside to slice. Remove any of the seeds from the jalapenos if you don’t want this to be spicy.

Once you slice the peppers, and onion, add them to the cooked bacon, along with the sliced tomatoes and cilantro. Give this a good stir, and season with a pinch or two of salt.

Return back to the grill, and cook your beef until it is about medium. Don’t overcook your beef!

Take the beef inside, and slice into 1 inch strips, then add the beef to the bacon mixture, giving a good stir.

Top the mixture with the Oaxaca cheese, then cover, and remove from the heat. You want the cheese to melt into the mixture.

Mexican Alambre Recipe
Mexican Alambre Recipe

Now you are ready to serve. Uncover, and place the skillet onto some heat resistant pads on the table. Top with fresh limes and sliced avocados, along with a plate of warmed flour tortillas.

Take your tortilla, take some of the alambre, and fold it into the tortilla. Give a squeeze of fresh lime juice, lay on some avocado, and some sour cream if you prefer, and dig in.

This was a great meal to serve at the table. The kids loved the interactivity (and the rocking flavors), and it was a great conversation piece. My oldest, who typically does not like melted cheese (especially on tacos), nor peppers, was spooning this into about 4 tacos. I think he loved this Mexican alambre, and I’m certain you will to! Enjoy.

Mexican Alambre
Author: 
Recipe type: Tacos
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 12
 
Ingredients
  • 6 slices of bacon, cut into 1 inch slices
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 1 whole white onion
  • 4 jalapeno peppers
  • 2 whole roma tomatoes, cored, and thinly sliced
  • ½ bunch fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • 2 lbs bottom round beef, thinly sliced
  • 2 morita chili pods, stems and seeds removed
  • 2 puya chili pods, stems and seeds removed
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups of water
  • flour tortillas, warmed
  • avocados, slided
  • 2 cups of Oaxaca cheese
  • Salt, to taste
  • sour cream, optional
  • sliced limes, optional
Instructions
  1. Start by marinating your beef. I like to do this overnight, but 4 or more hours should be sufficient.
  2. To a small sauce pan, add the water, the garlic, and the 4 chili pods. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and cook for about 20 minutes or until the pods are softened. Let the mixture cool. Take the pods, garlic, and about a cup of the water and blend until you have a fine puree. Pour this mixture into a sealable bag, throw in a generous pinch or two of salt, and add in the beef, seal, and give the beef a nice massage to ensure the marinade penetrates the beef. Place in the refrigerator until you are ready to grill.
  3. When you are ready to start making this, you have a couple of options. First is to grill the vegetables and beef (which is what I prefer), or you can cook everything in one big wok or skillet. (Hint: chose the grill)
  4. Heat up your grill. I like to use a combination of charcoal and cherry wood as the smokiness really gets into the great flavor of the beef.
  5. While the grill heats up, add the bacon to a large skillet, and cook on low heat, adding about ¼ cup of water during the cooking process. You don’t want the bacon to be fully crisp as you normally might eat for breakfast, but somewhere between soft and crisp. Continue cooking the bacon on low heat, reserving some of the fat.
  6. Next, add the whole bell peppers, onion, and jalapeno peppers to the grill, cooking over the coals. Your goal here is to get a nice char, while not fully cooking the peppers. Once you get a bit of the char, remove them from the grill, and take them inside to slice. Remove any of the seeds from the jalapenos if you don’t want this to be spicy.
  7. Once you slice the peppers, and onion, add them to the cooked bacon, along with the sliced tomatoes and cilantro. Give this a good stir, and season with a pinch or two of salt.
  8. Return back to the grill, and cook your beef until it is about medium. Don’t overcook your beef!
  9. Take the beef inside, and slice into 1 inch strips, then add the beef to the bacon mixture, giving a good stir.
  10. Top the mixture with the Oaxaca cheese, then cover, and remove from the heat. You want the cheese to melt into the mixture.
  11. Now you are ready to serve. Uncover, and place the skillet onto some heat resistant pads on the table. Top with fresh limes and sliced avocados, along with a plate of warmed flour tortillas.
  12. Take your tortilla, take some of the alambre, and fold it into the tortilla. Give a squeeze of fresh lime juice, lay on some avocado, and some sour cream if you prefer, and dig in.

 

Twice Baked Pimento Cheese Potatoes

Good Lord I love pimento cheese! Pimento cheese is something that I probably only make about twice a year, but when I do, I just cannot get enough of it. As a man from the North, this recipe is typically one from the South, and it is typically referred to as the ‘caviar of the South’, and I can tell why. If you have never tried pimento cheese, well, I suggest you make it yourself as it is not only super easy to make, but it is extremely delicious.

Twice Baked Pimento Cheese Potatoes Recipe
Twice Baked Pimento Cheese Potatoes Recipe

Pimento cheese is pretty diverse as well and it can be made several different ways, but the main foundation is shredded cheddar cheese, mayonnaise, and pimentos. I like to twist mine up from time to time, and include a couple of different ingredients. This latest batch was used not only for some dip, but I took a twist as a side dish and made twice baked potatoes, loaded with pimento cheese. Whoa, was this ever great.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of sharp cheddar cheese, hand grated
  • 3 tbsp mayonnaise
  • pinch of salt, to taste
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 4 oz diced pimentos, drained
  • 1/2 cup cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 2 whole potatoes, cooked until fork tender
  • 1/2 cup of milk
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter

Start by adding the cheeses, mayonnaise, salt, pepper, garlic, and pimentos to a small mixing bowl. Use a fork, and carefully stir and blend the mixture together. Make sure everything is combined.

Grab a cracker, and spread some of that delicious pimento cheese on top. Eat. Now you have to back away, otherwise you may attempt to eat that entire bowl. Cover and place into the refrigerator until you are ready to use for the potatoes.

Twice Baked Pimento Cheese Potatoes
Twice Baked Pimento Cheese Potatoes

You have a couple of options with your potatoes. Put them into the microwave for about 9 minutes, or place them into a 350 degree oven for 60 minutes. It’s your call. The goal however is to get them to be fork tender.

Once they are fork tender, remove them and let them cool slightly.

Take a knife, and carefully cut around the top of the potato. Repeat with the other one. Take the tops off and scrape any potato into a bowl. Use a spoon and scrape out the insides of each potato, being careful not to tear the skin.

To the potato mixture, add the butter, and milk. Use a fork or whisk, and mash the potato mixture. Now you are ready for the pimento cheese!

Add the potato mixture back into each potato. Generously top each potato with heaping tablespoons of the pimento cheese.

Place these onto a baking sheet, and place into a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until the cheese mixture is nice and bubbly.

Dig in!

If you love the basic twice baked potato, then you are going to fall in love with these. Not only are they cheesy, and super creamy, but you get that awesomeness from the pimentos and that slight kick of garlic that make these an ultimate side dish, or heck, dinner for that matter! Hope you enjoy!

Twice Baked Pimento Cheese Potatoes
Author: 
Recipe type: Sides
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups of sharp cheddar cheese, hand grated
  • 3 tbsp mayonnaise
  • pinch of salt, to taste
  • ½ tsp cracked black pepper
  • 4 oz diced pimentos, drained
  • ½ cup cream cheese, room temperature
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 2 whole potatoes, cooked until fork tender
  • ½ cup of milk
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
Instructions
  1. Start by adding the cheeses, mayonnaise, salt, pepper, garlic, and pimentos to a small mixing bowl. Use a fork, and carefully stir and blend the mixture together. Make sure everything is combined.
  2. Grab a cracker, and spread some of that delicious pimento cheese on top. Eat. Now you have to back away, otherwise you may attempt to eat that entire bowl. Cover and place into the refrigerator until you are ready to use for the potatoes.
  3. You have a couple of options with your potatoes. Put them into the microwave for about 9 minutes, or place them into a 350 degree oven for 60 minutes. It’s your call. The goal however is to get them to be fork tender.
  4. Once they are fork tender, remove them and let them cool slightly.
  5. Take a knife, and carefully cut around the top of the potato. Repeat with the other one. Take the tops off and scrape any potato into a bowl. Use a spoon and scrape out the insides of each potato, being careful not to tear the skin.
  6. To the potato mixture, add the butter, and milk. Use a fork or whisk, and mash the potato mixture. Now you are ready for the pimento cheese!
  7. Add the potato mixture back into each potato. Generously top each potato with heaping tablespoons of the pimento cheese.
  8. Place these onto a baking sheet, and place into a 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until the cheese mixture is nice and bubbly.
  9. Dig in!