Mixed Bean Soup with Fresh Herbs

Are you like me who makes a quick list before heading into a store? I’ve been that way for some time and my lists that I keep during the week add up. These lists though allow me to make my driving routes and get into stores quickly and efficiently as I make attempts to stay clear of those who may look sick (coughing, sneezing, etc), especially this time of year. Not too long ago however I found myself checking off my list of things to get at Costco, but then got sidetracked, most likely because I saw some sickos ahead of me and turned down an aisle that I did not need anything from, that is until I saw a big bag of mixed beans that looked great, even in their uncooked state. We always talk about getting more legumes into our diet, so I was already sold.

Mixed Bean and Fresh Herb Soup Recipe
Mixed Bean and Fresh Herb Soup Recipe

So I have been making soup at least once a week recently, most likely due to the season, and granted I made French Onion Soup back to back, I decided I was going to use up those beans and turn them into a Middle Eastern style soup, and this one a mixed bean soup with fresh herbs, and pork. This soup was so good, and we knew it as we ended up eating it again the following day for another dinner.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 3 cups of mixed beans, washed and soaked in water overnight (I used a blend of mixed beans including garbanzo)
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 cups pork shoulder, roughly chopped
  • 1 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 3/4 cup fresh dill, finely chopped
  • 2 cups fresh spinach, chopped
  • salt, to taste
  • cracked black pepper, to taste
  • fried onions, optional

Start by soaking your beans overnight in cool water in a large bowl. When you are ready to make the soup, rinse and strain the beans.

Heat a soup pot on medium heat. Add in the oil and bring to temperature. Toss in the onion, and stir, cooking for about 7 minutes. Next, toss in the garlic, and turmeric and give a good stir. Cook for about 3 minutes, then add in the strained beans. Give a good mix, then add in the stock, water, and pork. Cook this for about 2 hours, covered on medium-low heat.

Once the beans are tender, check about 1 hour in, add in the salt and cracked pepper. Start with about 2 tsp of salt as the beans can handle that, and about one teaspoon of black pepper. Stir and continue to cook. Taste for any additional seasoning. Add more if necessary.

Mixed Bean and Fresh Herb Soup
Mixed Bean and Fresh Herb Soup

Add in the fresh herbs and spinach, stir and cook for about 10 more minutes to allow those herbs to perfume the soup.

Now you are ready to serve.

Mixed Bean and Fresh Herb Soup
Mixed Bean and Fresh Herb Soup

Ladle the soup into a bowl and top with fried onions.

The end result is really comforting. You get the creamy beans, still having some texture, along with the fresh herbs which are the real star, and the super tender pork and crispy onions. It’s really a great bowl of soup, plus super healthy to boot. What is not to love about that? So thank you to the person who sneezed an aisle ahead of me and allowing me to turn down that aisle at Costco. Those beans and I thank you. Hope you enjoy!

Pork Loin Jerky Recipe and a Holiday Slate Cheese Board

I’m a big fan of good jerky. Do you find that it is typically a ‘guy’ thing to eat jerky? For whatever reason it seems that I rarely see a woman get excited to tear into a bag of jerky, but when a guy sees that jerky is available well then it seems like it is a whole different ball game. I know from my experience that seems to be the case, and hence why I tend to make my own. I just think that when looking at the cost, and ingredients for that matter, that jerky can be expensive. Not only that but I do not even know what a lot of those ingredients are in the jerky! Recently there were pork loins on sale and as I was purging one of our large freezers for a good thaw and cleaning, I decided to pull a couple of pork loins out to be used as sandwiches, but then quickly thought of trying out making jerky with the lean pork. Glad I did because this pork loin jerky was money well spent.

Pork Loin Jerky Recipe
Pork Loin Jerky Recipe

Let’s get started on this simple pork loin jerky recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lb pork loin, trimmed of fat, cut into 1/2 inch medallions with the grain
  • 1 tbsp worchestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 2 dashes of liquid smoke, hickory flavor
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder

First start by cutting the pork loin. I like to have mine almost slightly frozen so that it is way easier to slice, and you get really even slices.

Mix all of the everything but the pork in a bowl. Mix it really well. I like to use kitchen safe disposable plastic gloves when mixing so if you have them, strap them into place. Make sure all of the pork is completely marinated in the pork, and gently massage if possible. Cover the bowl and place in the refrigerator overnight to marinate, or at least four hours.

Next is the food dehydrator. Make sure the grates are cleaned and everything is ready to go. take the bottom rack and start laying pieces of the pork around the tray. Keep in mind some dehydrators are different shapes so the racks may be rectangular. If you are baking, Google ‘how to make jerky in the oven’. Do not crowd or overlap any of the pork pieces.

Continue with the pork on the remaining dehydrator racks. Stack the racks accordingly, cover, and turn on the dehydrator. For the most part you are done and simply have to wait about 5 hours for the pork to be jerky.

Pork Loin Jerky Recipe
Pork Loin Jerky Recipe

Once the jerky is done (it should be completely dry, but not like a shoelace as you still want to be able to easily eat through it), take them off of the rack (they will be slightly hot) and let cool before storing them. Once cooled, I like to keep half and then vacuum seal the rest. I learned the hard way some time ago when making a batch of jerky that when I placed them into a ziplock bag that the moisture got trapped and when pulling some out of the refrigerator, only a couple of days later, they were covered in mold. No bueno.

The end result is a really great pork jerky. Heck you would probably not even know it was pork if it wasn’t for the medallion cut! The light smokiness was all due to the liquid smoke, and trust me a little goes a long way. My taste testers came out of their rooms with excitement, and sure enough the pork loin jerky was a hit. The pork jerky makes a great holiday snack and can go well with an array of holiday servings, and in my case cookies and cheese.

The board I like to serve holiday appetizers on is this slate cheese board from Brooklyn Slate Company (comes with a nice maple cutting knife, chalk, bag, and you can even get it engraved). The cheese board actually elevates the low brow jerky into a more stunning presentation. Having the jerky on the board, alongside some funky cheese and some homemade cookies only resulted in a couple of slices of cheese being left, only after minutes of setting it out on display. The slate board that attracted so many quickly became a hit. I did not even get to use the chalk to write little notes on the board such as ‘pork jerky’, ‘manchego’, and ‘pecan pralines’. Next time. There is always next time.

Brooklyn Slate Cheese Board
Brooklyn Slate Cheese Board, @hometonest #hometonest, #slatecheeseboard #charcuterie #gifts

Happy holidays everyone (I know it’s early but my schedule is so random nowadays)! If you are looking for a unique appetizer to share, or a great holiday vessel to serve on, give these two a shot. They are both well worth it!

Related Items:

Chorizo and Potato Tacos

I told you that I am a sucker for tacos. It’s no joke, and I often reiterate to my wife that if I could eat anything any day of the week it would probably be tacos (or pizza).  Once of my most recent taco findings was the Mexican Potato Taco. You would never think that something so simple could be so flipping delicious. As I was thinking about making another batch of tacos de papas (potato tacos), I decided to go another route and marry two ingredients that I knew would really work well together for my taco Monday. Kidding, I am not sure what day I made these but I can probably say it was not on a Tuesday. Not that there is anything wrong with eating tacos on a Tuesday!

Chorizo and Potato Tacos Recipe
Chorizo and Potato Tacos Recipe

These are not the prettiest of tacos, but having been around chorizo for many years I can guarantee there really is no great picture of cooked Mexican chorizo. Taste, however, well that is on a whole other level!

Let’s get started.

  • 2 whole russet potatoes, skin removed, potatoes cubed
  • 1 link of Mexican chorizo, about 2-3 cups
  • 1/2 cup white onion, diced
  • corn tortillas, warmed
  • lime wedges, optional
  • 1 whole avocado, sliced
  • Salsa verde, optional

Start by adding water to a pot. Add in your diced potatoes and bring to a boil. Cook the potatoes until fork tender, about 15 minutes. Once tender, strain and set the potatoes to the side.

While the potatoes cook, add the chorizo to a large skillet on medium-high heat.

Remove the chorizo from the casing and squeeze it into the skillet. Start breaking up the chorizo with a wooden spoon. Add in the diced onions and cook, continuing to break the chorizo along the way.

It will look a bit oily. Don’t worry as the cooked potatoes will soak up all of that spiced goodness.

Add the drained potatoes to the skillet, and give this a good stir. Reduce the heat to low, cook for about 5 minutes, then load your taco.

Take a couple of warmed corn tortillas, spoon in some of the chorizo and potato mixture, and top with avocado, as squeeze of lime, and a wedge of avocado and you have yourself one heck of a great taco. Not only is this super affordable, but it is a nice twist on a standard taco night. Hope you enjoy!

Related Chorizo Links:

Indiana Fried Pork Tenderloin Sandwich

Believe it or not, I grew up in Indiana. It was a great upbringing. Friends and family lived nearby, parks just down the street, the elementary school in walking distance, and even an inground pool in the backyard. There were so many great memories there, however my folks decided to take a work transfer to Wisconsin when I was entering the second grade. Regardless, it was a great transfer to say the least. We lived in a small town where the population was under 8,000 people, but everything was close by us. The school was a block away, the library about the same, and the swimming pool and ice skating rink was in the same vicinity.

I often say to my kids that they have it great when it comes to their commute to middle/high school, as the walk to our middle school and high (rain, snow, or shine) was a bit of a distance. That did not matter however as that walk built up an appetite, and it was very important that we were always home on time for dinner. I instill that same routine with my family. There is one thing that really satisfied our appetite, and one that is probably the icon of Indiana, and that is the Fried Pork Tenderloin Sandwich and my Dad was and is amazing at making them. I was fortunate to help out on many occasions growing up with the dredge station and learning some of his tips and tricks. I brought that sandwich home to my family and it is noted by all of them ‘this is my favorite sandwich’. After all of the recipes I make for my family, I was not surprised to hear that as it is one heck of a sandwich.

Indiana Fried Pork Tenderloin Sandwich Recipe
Indiana Fried Pork Tenderloin Sandwich Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 6 whole eggs
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 3 sleeves Saltine Crackers, smashed into rough crumbs
  • 3 cups flour
  • 2-3 lbs pork loin, cut into 1.5 inch slices and about 4-5 inches long
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp cracked black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tbsp garlic powder
  • Yellow mustard, to your liking
  • Mayonnaise
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 1/2 head of lettuce, cleaned and drained
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • generic hamburger buns
  • pickles to garnish, to your liking
  • canola oil, roughly 4 cups
  • Meat mallet
  • plastic wrap

Start by getting your dredging station ready. You can get three bowls out, or two bowls, and one large plastic sealed bag.

To one bow, whisk the eggs, then add the water, and continue to whisk until lightly bubbly. To another bowl, add the flour. Season the flour with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Set this aside.

Add the crushed Saltines to a large plastic sealed bag.

Add the oil to a large pot on medium-low heat.

While the oil heats up, get ready to get some aggression out on the pork.

Take two pieces of plastic wrap, about 1 foot long for each piece.

Indiana Fried Pork Sandwich Ingredients
Indiana Fried Pork Sandwich Ingredients

Lay one piece of plastic wrap onto your working surface. Add a piece of the cut pork, then top with the other piece of plastic wrap. Gently pound from the center outward, being careful not to tear the pork. This will almost double or triple in size. This is one of the beauties of this sandwich.

Repeat with remaining cuts of pork and stack them onto a plate.

Now you are ready to dredge. Check the temperature of your oil if you can. The oil should simmer and be around 350 degrees.

Take a piece of the pork, cover both sides with flour, shaking off any excess flour, then into the egg wash. Let the egg wash drain a bit, then place into the plastic bag with the saltines. Gently push the saltines into the pork, covering completely, then shake off any excess saltines.

Place into your oil, and cook until golden brown on both sides. This only takes about 4 minutes or so per side. Once golden, remove with tongs, and let any excess oil drain bag into to pot, and place the cooked pork onto a baking sheet and place into a 225 degree oven (or make your sandwich right away) to keep warm until all cooked pork is ready to serve.

Repeat with remaining pork slices.

Indiana Fried Pork Sandwich Recipe
Indiana Fried Pork Sandwich Recipe

Now it is time to assemble the sandwich.

To the bottom bun, slather on some mayonnaise, and squirt on some mustard.

Add lettuce slices, a slice or two of tomato, thinly sliced onions, and top with the over sized fried pork. Add a bit of mustard to the bottom of the top bun, then top. Place a pickle on the plate to nibble on throughout your sandwich intake.

Dig in. The great thing about this sandwich is eating through the pork even before you make it to the sandwich. It’s crispy and so very delicious. Then you get into the sandwich and the overall combination of all of the ingredients makes this sandwich scream. I now know why my Dad made this Indiana Fried Pork Sandwich for us on a regular rotation, and as importantly realize why my kids have named it their favorite as well.

If you are looking for a great sandwich, give this one a shot. The time and effort totally pays off. Enjoy!

 

Posole Verde or is it Pozole Verde

My wife and I (and my family for that matter) have been on a soup kick since late fall. Soup is so comforting.  We have so many favorites. My wife’s go to soup is probably Chicken Tortilla Soup whereas mine is probably Vietnamese pho, or this (or any type) Mexican Posole Verde. The thing I love about posole is that you can go the red (rojo) route, or go green (verde) and that it is loaded with hominy. I love hominy. This soup is super easy to make, makes a bunch, and is packed full of comfort.

Mexican Posole Verde Recipe
Mexican Posole Verde Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 8 large green tomatillos, husked
  • 2 whole onions, chopped
  • 6 cloves of garlic
  • 2 whole jalapeno chilies, seeds removed is optional
  • 1 serrano chili, seeds removed is optional
  • 25 oz can of hominy, drained
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 1 green cabbage, shredded
  • 6 whole radishes, thinly sliced
  • salt to taste
  • cracked black pepper to taste
  • lime, quarted, optional
  • corn tortillas, warmed

Start by adding the chicken to a soup pot. Add the chicken stock, and 1 chopped onion. Next, preheat your oven to 425 degrees. To a baking sheet, add the remaining onion, tomatillos, garlic, jalapeno, and serrano chilies.

Mexican Posole Verde Recipe
Mexican Posole Verde Recipe

Bake for about 30 minutes until everything is well roasted. Add these ingredients to a blender and blend until smooth.

Once the chicken is cooked, remove the chicken from the stock. Let it cool until you can shred or chop. Your call on this one.

Pour the chili blend into the soup pot, along with the drained hominy. Return the chicken back to the pot, give a good stir, and cook for about 30 minutes. Taste and season with salt if you desire.

To serve, ladle a nice amount into a bowl and serve alongside warm tortillas, shredded cabbage, radish, and lime. Spoon in some of the sides, taking bites of warm tortillas. Repeat. Now I need to make another batch! I hope you enjoy.

Crispy Pig Ears

Crispy pig ears, I know. Who the heck makes crispy pig ears? This dude does, that’s who. I forgot when and where I had these but were they ever awesome. They actually reminded me of a really good slimmed down chicharron. Crunchy, funky, and delicious. I tend to always look at this type of stuff when I shop at my local Mexican grocery store. They have everything, and granted there are some items that are not pleasing to the eye and I shun away from them rather quickly, there are others that really grab my attention. In particular these pig ears, and hopefully in the future, a cow or pig’s head. Who knows what I might make of those. Maybe some Filipino sisig, or maybe just braised and roasted to start digging into the cheek meat, etc. But these pig ears…. Those little suckers caught my attention and I knew I wanted to try to recreate those crispy, crackling things of beauty for my kids. Yes, my kids.

Crispy Pig Ears Recipe
Crispy Pig Ears Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 1 package of pig ears (mine came 4 ears to a package)
  • 2 cups of soy sauce
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 4 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
  • 1 tbsp vinegar
  • water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • cooking oil

Start by rinsing off the ears with cold water. Once thoroughly rinsed, add them to a stock pot.

Add enough water to cover, and bring them to a boil, reducing the heat once boiling. Remove any and all of the scum that floats to the top and discard. This is much like cooking down bones for Vietnamese pho or any good stock.

After about 20-30 minutes, pour out the water, and give the ears another rinse, leaving them in the pot. Once rinsed, add the soy sauce, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorn, and vinegar. Add enough water to cover the ears, then continue to cook over medium heat for about 2 hours.

How to make crispy pig ears
How to make crispy pig ears

After a couple of hours, pour out the liquid, and remove the pig ears, placing them in a bowl or plate to let cool.

Once cooled, slice them into strips, or chunks if you want. Whatever your desired bite is going to be.  Rub the teaspoon of salt all over them. Once sliced, and cooled, cover them and place them into refrigerator overnight.

The following day, heat enough canola oil on medium heat in a pan. NOTE: These will splatter a bit due to the fat content, so be prepared.

Once the oil is hot, about 350 degrees, pat the pig ears a bit before dropping them in, add the sliced pig ears in batches, and cook each batch until they are crispy.

A bit messy from the splattering, just a heads up.

Once they are crisp, remove them with a slotted spoon and onto a paper lined plate to remove any excess oil. Add the sliced ears to a small bowl and season lightly with salt. Repeat.

These pig ears are sticky from the gelatin the ears contain, crispy, and an overall unique experience that my kids (with the exception of one) actually enjoyed. Would I make them again? Probably. But in the future, I will have to hunt down where we had them and go from there. Have you ever cooked crispy pig ears, and if so what were your thoughts?

 

Larb Stuffed Loaded Baked Potato

I’m always looking for something to do with my leftovers and to be honest I am a bit surprised I had any leftovers from a recent Thai/Lao larb fest. I will also be honest and state that larb is probably one of my top 10 things to eat. There’s something about the medley of flavors and the interaction when grabbing a bit of sticky rice and nubbing it down into the herbaceous larb. I’ve done a bunch of different things outside of the standard larb recipe, of which includes leftovers. Everything  larb fried rice, larb bao, and larb quesadillas to name a few. This one on the other hand goes right up there with an excellent use of leftovers, still has that great heat (depending on how you make the larb), and is filling to boot. This one is larb stuffed loaded baked potatoes. I can probably chalk this one up with all of the potato skins I’ve made in the past as well.

Thai Larb Stuffed Baked Potato Recipe
Thai Larb Stuffed Baked Potato Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups of leftover larb (feel free to use beef, pork, or chicken)
  • 1 baking potato
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • pinch of salt

That’s it. Granted you may thinking making larb takes a bunch of time, but seriously, it takes about 5 minutes, or as long to cook your protein

Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees, or use your microwave if you want to roll that way, and poke some holes into the potato with a fork.

Take some olive oil and lightly coat the exterior of the potato, and season with a bit of salt. I love a crusty, salty potato, and yes, I eat the whole thing.

Bake or microwave the potato until it is knife tender in the middle. This takes about 8-10 minutes in the microwave, or about 45-60 minutes in the oven.

Once the potato is fully cooked, remove it from the oven, take a butter knife and make a long slit through the top, then carefully using your fingers give it a pinch to make a nice open pocket.

Warm your leftover larb in a skillet, or microwave, then generously load the larb into the baked potato. You can see the extra Thai chilies I added (nice boost for vitamin C), and how loaded it is. I also wanted some extra heat. Did I mention that I find myself eating a Thai chili a day? For whatever it’s worth, it hasn’t kept the doctor away, but I do love them.

If you are looking for a great and interesting take on a loaded baked potato, give this one a shot, but by all means, if you have not had Thai/Lao larb you must make it. It’s addicting. Hope you enjoy!

Lechon Kawali

Snack, Crackle, Pop. Repeat. I’ve said this before but Filipino food is on the rise, and much like many top chefs have predicted, Filipino food will begin to surprise you. If you have never had Filipino food, just give it a try. Granted, I have yet to find a sweet Filipino dessert that I like (but then again I do not like many desserts as I am not a sweet tooth), but the savory dishes are to die for. This one might be the one to top it off. There are many common, top, Filipino dishes that you might already be aware of such as Pancit, lumpia, or even Kare Kare, but there is one that is top notch, and that is lechon kawali.

Your cardiologist may not like you after this, nor probably your primary physician, but in moderation, this Filipino crispy pork is so simple to make, and makes a perfect party food. Traditionally made with pork belly, you can also try it with pork ribs just make sure you have plenty of fat to render on the second cooking cycle. Yep, there are two cooking steps going on here.

Filipino Lechon Kawali Recipe
Filipino Lechon Kawali Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs boneless pork belly, cut into 2 inch long strips
  • 1 head of garlic, skins removed, bulbs smashed
  • 4 whole bay leaves
  • 3 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 3/4 cup soy sauce
  • water
  • salt
  • canola oil
  • dipping sauce
    • White Vinegar, to your liking
    • Soy sauce, to your liking
    • Chopped garlic, to your liking
    • cracked black pepper, to your liking
    • 1 Thai birds eye chili, smashed, optional or Thai chili flakes

I recently made this for my son’s birthday party, as well as another Filipino gathering and both times they rocked the socks off of the party guests. You know you’ve done right when the Filipinos are giving you a thumbs up, a hug, or a high five after eating your food. This is a winner.

Start by adding the pork belly, garlic, bay leaves, peppercorns, soy sauce, and enough water to cover the pork belly into a large pot or dutch oven. Cover, and bring to a simmer, cooking for about 1 hour. This is to tenderize the pork, and infuse all of the great flavor from those aromatics.

Filipino Lechon Kawali Recipe Ingredients
Filipino Lechon Kawali Recipe Ingredients

After 1 hour or so, get a baking sheet out and line it with a wire rack.

Take the strips of pork belly and lay them on the rack, making sure any of the excess liquid goes back into the pot. Once the strips are laid out, lightly salt them with kosher salt. This will assist with the dehydration process and get them ready for the next step the following day, if not hours later in the day.

Place the baking sheet, uncovered in the refrigerator. I do this over night.

Filipino Lechon Kawali Recipe
Filipino Lechon Kawali Recipe

When you are ready to go with the next step, take the pork out of the refrigerator and cut them into bite sized cubes, about 1-2 inches in size. Go larger if you prefer.

Heat a pot of oil, about 2-3 cups of canola oil, in a medium sized pot, and bring this to about 350-375 degrees.

In batches, fry the pork. This should take about 5-7 minutes per batch. Once golden and the fat is rendered and crispy, remove with a slotted spoon or kitchen spyder and place onto a paper lined plate to remove any excess oil. Let the oil in the pot come back to temp, then repeat until the lechon kawali is cooked.

NOTE: If you are frying these bad boys, make sure you reserve some for yourself because if you turn your back, trust me, these babies will be gone. This happened to me when I brought them to a party for our friend Miguel to chop up and fry. I didn’t even get a single piece! No worries on that part however, as I know that when I am snacking with the family, that I am sure to get a few pieces.

And that dipping sauce? Go for it. The combination of garlic, vinegar, soy, and chili. That’s a whole other level when it comes to dipping sauce.

If you are looking for a great party appetizer, and don’t mind frying with a bit of oil, this one is sure to please and is a real crowd pleaser not only for those wanting to try some Filipino flavors, but for those who love great, easy food. Hope you enjoy!

Chicago Style Hot Dog Tater Tots

Do you know that time when you are really craving something but you just don’t want to get up, go, and go get it? Yeah, it seems like I have been having those types of days lately. This past week I had a craving for this one, actually it was the craving for a Chicago style hot dog, but with french fries, and I was not about to get back in my car and head across town to go get them. That’s when I took things into my own hands, rummaged through my freezer and refrigerator, and just like that I came up with the great idea of Chicago style hot dog tater tots.

Sure, I’ve made pizza tots, bacon wrapped tots, and homemade tater tots to boot, but I’m not sure if anything compared to these Chicago style hot dog tater tots. It’s everything you love about a Chicago style hot dog, and fries, all in one delicious bite.

Chicago Style Hot Dog Tater Tots Recipe
Chicago Style Hot Dog Tater Tots Recipe

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 2 whole hot dogs, cooked and sliced in bites
  • 1 bag of your favorite tater tots
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 roma tomato, pulp removed, sliced
  • sport peppers, to your liking
  • 1 tsp celery salt
  • your favorite pickles, to your liking
  • 1 tsp cajun seasoning, optional
  • 1 tsp black poppy seeds
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

If you want to use the funky neon green relish, by all means go for. That goes the same for yellow mustard, and as much as I love both of them, I omitted them from this particular recipe.

Feel free to adjust these ingredients based on how many people you are going to feed. This one in particular could probably feed two, but I was really, really hungry at the time and decided to go all in.

Start by lining a baking sheet with parchment paper, and preheat your oven to 425 degrees, or according to your instructions on your frozen tater tot bag.

Line the baking sheet with as much, or as little tater tots to your desire.

Cook the tater tots in the oven just until they begin to crisp up, about 15 minutes or so.

Chicago Style Hot Dog Tater Tots Recipe
Chicago Style Hot Dog Tater Tots Recipe

During this time, either boil, steam, or microwave the hot dogs, just until cooked.

After 15 minutes, remove the tater tots from the oven and add the onions to the top of the tots. Place back into the oven and cook an additional 5 minutes or so, just to lightly cook the onions.

Remove the tots from the oven, coat them sprinkle on the celery salt and cajun seasoning (I use Old Bay for the additional celery salt factor), top with the cheese, and the hot dogs, and place them back into the oven until the cheese is fully melted.

Once melted, remove, and top with the tomatoes, pickles, sport peppers, and shower everything with the poppy seeds. If you are wanting to use relish and mustard, by all means go for it.

Chicago Style Hot Dog Tater Tots Recipe
Chicago Style Hot Dog Tater Tots Recipe

These things are way too good, and are sure to be a real crowd pleaser. Not only did I save myself from a trip across town, but I also won in satisfying my hunger and craving for a Chicago style hot dog, with tater tots! Hope you enjoy.

Ham, Cheese, and Potato Casserole

I believe, and I only say ‘believe’ because I am somewhat uncertain, that casserole is or has neared the end in our beautiful state of Wisconsin. Just like the seasons, it is one of the things I think we all love. You know when you start new recipes based entirely on the weather. As it was cold and rainy a few weeks back, I decided to once again review the contents of the freezer, cupboards, and pantry, and come up with something for dinner. I’m so glad I did, and as surprised as I was (and probably should not have been) this entire casserole was devoured by just three of us. Please don’t judge us on a rainy, cold day. 

This casserole is definitely not pretty, but my oh my is it ever comforting and delicious.

Ham, Cheese, and Potato Casserole Recipe
Ham, Cheese, and Potato Casserole Recipe

Told you it’s not pretty.

Let’s get started.

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp canola oil
  • 4 cups of Ore-Ida frozen hash browns
  • 3 cups of cooked, diced ham
  • 2 cups of Gouda cheese, shredded
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups of milk
  • 1 tsp salt, to taste
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup of fine bread crumbs, optional

Start by heating a large skillet on medium heat. Add in the canola oil, and once heated through, add in the hashbrowns, and gently push down, as well as push in the edges a bit to form a nice potato patty.

Let these cook somewhat low and slow. The goal is to get them nice and crispy on the outside while keeping them nice and tender on the inside. Granted these will be mixed and baked but the texture is nice at the end.

During this time, let’s make the cheese sauce, or mornay sauce if you will. It’s your standard bechamel in a way but with cheese added.

To a sauce pan, melt the butter. Once melted, stir in the flour, and cook out the flour on medium heat for a couple of minutes. Stir until it forms a bit of a paste, yet doesn’t turn color on you.

Slowly pour in the milk, continuing to stir and breaking up the flour to create your sauce. Once all of the milk is added, season with a bit of salt and pepper.

Ham, Cheese, and Potato Casserole Recipe
Ham, Cheese, and Potato Casserole Recipe

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

You’ve been keeping an eye on those hash browns, right? Good. Now give them a flip, reform them into a patty, and continue to lightly crisp on the other side.

Once the sauce begins to thicken a bit, reduce the heat, and slowly add in about 3/4 of the cheese, reserving a bit to finish during baking.

Get a large bowl out to mix everything.

Add in the crisp hash browns, top with the ham, then pour over the cheese sauce. Give this a good mix, breaking up the hash browns to your desire, then pour into a casserole dish.

Top with remaining shredded cheese, and lightly shower on the bread crumbs. Place into the preheated oven and cook for about 25 minutes or until the top is nice and golden brown.

Remove from the heat, let cool for about 5-10 minutes, then scoop into a bowl and dig in.

Talk about comfort food. Two of my kids were out for the evening so I thought it would be just my wife and I in front of the television watching LaLa Land (sigh), but then one of my picky eaters (doesn’t like melted cheese on most if not all foods) comes in with a bowl (and then helped himself to thirds) and we all could not stop eating this stuff. We finished the casserole. Yep, this one is that good.

If you are looking for an easy casserole to make, and have a few things lying around in your freezer and pantry, give this one a shot. Until the fall season starts, this one will have to wait. Sorry, ham, cheese, and potato casserole, but you will be missed!