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Cheesy Sloppy Joe Hotdogs

Have you ever noticed how having kids, or caring for kids, or really just being exposed to kids on a regular basis forces you to revisit, and often rediscover, classic dishes from your own childhood? Especially when my guys were little, or going through their individual ‘picky palate’ stages, I’d have to get creative, and often the simplest answer was to call Mom and asked what the hell she had made that we would actually eat during those same trying times. And wouldn’t you know, almost every time the same things worked for me and my boys, like hot dogs and sloppy joes. But over the years we’ve all grown up (how much is often debatable 😉 ), and while we haven’t exactly outgrown these favorites, we’ve found them growing right along with us. Think of it as revisiting, and revitalizing the classics. And that’s how the Cheesy Sloppy Dog was born. And. It. Was. Glorious. And, of course, cheesy and messy enough in all its glory to be whole-heartedly embraced by both our emerging adult-selves and our inner child.

cheesy sloppy dogs

Nestle your favorite brand of hot dog into a warm toasty hot dog bun, top it with perfectly seasoned, just like Mama made ’em, ground beef-based sloppy joes and then spoon (or ladle) on a heaping helping of garlic cheese sauce. It’s cheesy, sloppy, ehrmagherd bliss in every bite. And, if you’re the parent now? You can even lick your fingers clean. Just don’t let the kids see. Do as I say, not as I do, right?

cheesy sloppy dogs 2

Ok, back to adult-ing. That’s a thing, right?

Head on over to my friend Alli’s blog, where we were guest posting today, to get the recipe.

Pepperoni & Basil Tortellini Salad

Usually, I’d argue that this dish makes a perfect salad for Summer, whether it’s as a side dish or a meal itself. And it does. But when it’s unseasonably warm weather-wise on the home front and were less than two weeks away from Christmas, I’m not going to rant or rave. I mean I can’t actually do anything about it, so why not just go with it?

Tortellini & Pepperoni Pasta Salad 2

Just picture it, your favorite cheese tortellini with ripe grape tomatoes ready to burst with flavor, fresh basil, a generous helping of chopped pepperoni, and all mixed up with your favorite creamy Caesar salad dressing. It’s definitely not for the faint of heart, or anybody on a diet, but if neither of those apply to you, it’s a dreamy combination.

Tortellini & Pepperoni Pasta Salad

Trust me you want in on this dish. In a month filled with warm, rich comfort foods and chaos and (if you’re a parent) kids home on break needing more lunch options than the typical brown bag variety, run headlong toward this ‘salad’. This is pasta salad, 2.0, and it’s just the change of pace we enjoy. With the roller coaster weather, us and our meals have to roll with the punches.

Pepperoni & Basil Tortellini Salad

Tortellini & Pepperoni Pasta Salad 3

1 (20 oz) pkg cheese tortellini, or about 3-4 cups frozen tortellini
1 cup pepperoni slices, chopped
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup cubed, or shredded, mozzarella cheese
1 cup caesar dressing
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

Directions

  1. Cooked the tortellini according to package directions. Drain and transfer the tortellini to a large bowl.
    2. Stir together the dressing and the cooked tortellini. Add in the pepperoni, basil, cheese, and tomatoes and gently stir together, so that the tortellini don’t fall apart, until everything’s evenly combined.
    3. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Pizzadillas

While we try to keep things ‘PG’ rated at best around these parts, occasionally (just occasionally, promise!) things may change. Like now.

Once upon a time, a quesadilla and pizza got together. They had a very lovely, love child. The Pizza-dilla.

And tummies and tastebuds rejoiced throughout the land and we all lived happily ever after!

 Pizzadillas

Everything you love about a crispy, crunchy quesadilla oozing melted, cheesy goodness, but instead of stopping there it’s topped off like a pizza with tomato sauce, more cheese, and a few pepperonis for good measure.

These are a perfect thing to make with the kids. They’re easy to assemble and easy to cook, without a lot of parental assistance required. Helloooooo, Sous Chef Sunday!

Pizzadillas

2 tortillas. Regular size
1 cup cheddar or mozzarella, shredded
3 tbsp pizza sauce
1/2 cup cheddar or mozzarella, shredded
3 slices pepperoni
1 tbsp sliced black olives (optional)

Directions

  1. Heat a large pan over medium heat.
    2. Place one tortilla in the pan, sprinkle One cup of cheese evenly out over it, and top it with the second tortilla.
    3. Cook until the quesadilla is golden brown on both sides and the cheese is melted, about 2-4 minutes per side.
    4. Spread the pizza sauce over the top of the quesadilla followed by the mozzarella, pepperoni and olives.
    5. Bake at 400 degrees just until the cheese on top has melted, about 5-10 minutes.

Chipotle Cheddar Turkey Wraps

Where are all my fellow football fans at?

<Fist Bump>

Now, I freely admit, while I love the game and can in fact follow along and all the rest, my favorite party about game day is the food. Hey, there’s no shame in my game 😉

And who doesn’t love a good excuse to make an entire meal out of appetizers, assorted snack foods, and chips and dip?

Chipotle Cheddar Turkey Wraps

I love serving wraps because they’re simple to assemble and easy to throw together a the last minute. Like under 5 minutes quick. Who wants to be stressed out on game day? Or make that any more stressed out if your team didn’t bring it that day.

This wrap though has, most definitely, brought it. It’s bursting at the seams with flavor. The creamy (& healthy–shh don’t tell the guys) avocado yogurt sauce pairs perfectly with the tang from the sharp cheddar. They’re rounded out with the addition of some of your favorite sliced turkey and tomatoes. Then we’ve sprinkled on some cilantro leaves and a pinch of Chipotle seasoning for the perfect amount of fresh color and kick.

Chipotle Cheddar Turkey Wraps

2 large flour tortillas, burrito size
1 medium ripe avocado, peeled and pitted
1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt, or sour cream
salt & pepper, to taste
1 tsp lemon juice
8 thin slices of cheddar cheese, softened to room temp
1/2-1 tsp chipotle seasoning, or more (to taste) if you’re feeling adventurous
1/2 cup of your favorite chopped tomatoes; Rotel, diced Roma, or even sun-dried tomatoes
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, stems discarded, chopped

Directions

  1. Place the tortillas onto a clean, flat work surface, such as a cutting board or counter top.
    2. In a small bowl, combine the avocado, yogurt, lemon juice, salt, and pepper, using a fork to mash everything together until evenly incorporated into a thick sauce.
    3. Spread the sauce out evenly, dividing it in half between both wraps, and remembering to leave a 1/4″ bare edge all the way around.
    4. Add the cheese slices (about 4 slices per wrap depending on the size) in an even, flat layer. It’s ok if you need to break the cheese in places to get it to properly cover the whole wrap.
    5. Evenly sprinkle each wrap with 1/2 the desired amount of chipotle seasoning.
    6. Evenly sprinkle each wrap with 1/4 cup of tomatoes.
    7. Evenly sprinkle each wrap with 1/4 cup of the fresh cilantro.
    8. Roll each wrap up tightly and position so that the seam side is facing down. Set the rolled wraps onto a plate and chill in the refrigerator for about 5 minutes.
  2. 9. Using a serrated knife, slice each wrap into 1-inch slices and serve them immediately to a hungry crowd.

Crockpot Crack Chicken Sandwiches

I try to follow the news and stay abreast of current events, and there’s currently articles circulating everywhere on the web over the recent results of a scientific study that found cheese (yes, you read that right, plain old cheese) to be as addictive as hard drugs. Basically, cheese is crack.

This explains so much.

Crockpot Crack Chicken Sandwiches 2

And it makes me feel much better about posting a recipe with the word ‘crack’ in the title.

Crockpot Crack Chicken Sandwiches

This sandwich spread is addictively delicious, both in its simplicity to throw together, and in the few (but mighty) flavors it brings together. Bacon, cheddar, ranch, and chicken all mixed and melded together with a little help from some cream cheese served warm on a fresh, toasted bun. Now that sounds like a problem I wouldn’t mind having. Once in awhile at least.

Crockpot Crack Chicken Sandwiches

Crockpot Crack Chicken Sandwiches 3

2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 (8 oz) blocks cream cheese
2 (1 oz) packets dry Ranch seasoning
8 oz bacon, cooked crisply and crumbled
1/2 – 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese + more for sandwiches (if desired)

Directions

 1. Add the chicken, cream cheese, and Ranch seasoning to the bowl of your crockpot or slow cooker.
2. Cook it on low for 6-8 hours or on high for 4 hours. Then shred the cooked chicken, the easy way or by removing it to a plate and pulling it apart with two forks.
3. Return the shredded chicken to the crockpot and use a large spoon or a sturdy spatula to stir until the mixture is evenly combined.
4. Add in the cheese and bacon, stirring until the cheese is melted and everything’s mixed well.
5. Serve the ‘crack’ chicken warm on hamburger buns or sandwich bread, toasted or plain, topped with a sprinkle of shredded cheese (optional).

Monster Sandwiches

My lunch is grinning at me. (help?)

I’m gonna go ahead and file that under the ‘Things I Never Thought I’d Say’ tab. And in this case it’s a good thing, because it means I’ve succeeded in making adorable, edible little monsters for my little monsters.

Monster Sandwiches

These are ready in mere minutes, making them a perfect addition to any little lunch box and easy enough to whip a batch large enough for the food table at just about any Halloween Monster Mash bash.

Monster Sandwiches

Monster Sandwiches 2

2 slices of your favorite sandwich bread, we used honey wheat
1 slice sharp cheddar cheese
2-3 slices of lunch meat, ham, turkey, or chicken
2 pimento-stuffed green olives
mayonaiise or mustard (optional)
toothpicks
large round cookie cutter, or biscuit cutter

Directions

  1. Use a large cookie or biscuit cutter, press into the slices of bread, pulling away crust and excess to cut into circles. Use a paring knife to cut jagged little ‘teeth’ into one side of the slice of cheese. Stack the slices of lunchmeat on the bottom piece of bread & put the slice of cheese on top with the jagged edge facing ‘out’ and slightly hanging over the edge. Spread a bit of mayo and/or mustard onto the inside of the other cut piece of bread and then top the sandwich. Break a toothpick in half & insert one half into a pimento stuffed olive & the other into the top of the sandwich. Repeat with the other one forming your monster eyes. Repeat as many times as needed for your desired number of sandwiches.

Apple, Red Onion, & Cheddar Panini on Naan Bread

There’s nothing quite like the fresh air of the mountains, and living in Virginia we’re fortunate enough to be only a hop, skip, and a jump from the nearest range. A kind of peace comes over me and my heart is so full when I watch my boys be boys, especially the older they get. And our local (ish, it’s only 40 minutes away) orchard offers them every opportunity to embrace everything innately boyish about themselves.

apple picking 2015 7

Running up and down mountain sides? Check.

apple picking 2015 4

Climbing trees? Check. (bonus points for ones over looking or over hanging mountain sides)

apple picking 2015 3

Eating fruit fresh picked from the vine? Check.

apple picking 2015 6

Dad letting you carry and use a (very dull) pocket knife to cut your own fresh slices of fruit? Check.

apple picking 2015 5

(and obviously extra, extra bonus points for the use of sharp objects)

apple picking 2015

Every year we have a blast, and I love being able to look back on our memories forever captured in photos, but ever year we come home starving, and that’s despite the fresh cider and fresh cider donuts we gorge on while there.

This year, I dug right into one of our several bushels and had a piping hot batch of grilled naan-witches ready to serve in no time. Meltty, tangy sharp cheddar, the bite of red onion, crispy, sweet apple slices, and a bit of sass from our favorite honey mustard made this the perfect grilled cheese sandwich to celebrate one of our favorite Fall traditions.

Apple, Red Onion, Cheddar Panini on Naan Bread

Apple, Red Onion, & Cheddar Panini on Naan Bread

2 pieces of naan or other bread (use four pieces if the slices are small, I had 2 large naan pieces)
1 Apple, cored and sliced
sharp cheddar cheese, sliced
red onion, thinly sliced
your favorite honey mustard

Directions

  1. Place a layer of cheddar cheese slices on the bottom piece of naan. Layer on sliced apples, then the sliced red onion, and then top that with another layer of cheddar cheese.

2. Spread a layer of honey mustard on the inside of the top piece of naan and then place that on top of apple, onion and cheese, closing the sandwich.

3. Place the sandwich in the panini press until heated through, about 6 minutes. Cut the sandwich in half (if you’re using larger slices of naan) and serve.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Paninis

We love Chicken Cordon Bleu. And how could you blame us? I don’t know many people who could resist a crispy chicken breast stuffed with ham and oozing melted Swiss cheese? And while most people are familiar with at least the basic concept of the original stuffed and pan fried version, we haven’t stopped there. We love all things cordon bleu. All. The. Things.

 Chicken Cordon Bleu Paninis 3

Especially our pinwheels version, and in the colder months we really enjoy turning it into a hearty bowl of soup for supper. But we can’t ever seem to stop. We’re always on the lookout for those fun new ways to enjoy old favorites. And thank goodness for it, because it’s how we stumbled onto this sandwich idea.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Paninis

This recipe is basically everything you love about Chicken Cordon Bleu and its flavor profile, stuffed into a crisp, crusty grilled panini.

Chicken Cordon Bleu Paninis

Chicken Cordon Bleu Paninis 2

1 lb chicken cutlets
1/2 cup flour
1 egg
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
salt and pepper, to taste
oil, for frying
4 ciabatta rolls, or other bread (we also like thick slices of sourdough)
softened butter
dijon mustard
1/4 lb thinly sliced swiss cheese
1/4 lb sliced deli ham

Directions

  1. Preheat your panini press to high.

2. Place the flour, egg, and panko each into separate, shallow bowls. Whisk the egg slightly to blend it together.  Season each piece of chicken with salt and pepper, and then coat each piece in flour, egg, and panko, in that order. Set the breaded chicken aside.

3. Heat a few tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and add the chicken. Cook until the chicken is cooked through and golden and crispy on each side, about 4 minutes per side. Remove the cooked chicken from the pan and set aside.

4. To make the panini, take the ciabatta rolls and slice them in half lengthwise. Butter the top and bottom of each roll, yes the OUTside. Next spread a little mustard on the bottom half of each roll, the inside of the bottom half. Layer on the cheese and ham by placing a slice of cheese on both the bottom and top pieces, and a piece of ham on just the bottom. Next, place a piece of chicken on the bottom half of each sandwich. Top the sandwiches and move to the panini press.

5. Pressing down on the panini press, grill until the sandwiches are golden brown and the cheese is melted, about five minutes. Serve warm, and enjoy!

‘Knock Your Socks Off’ Tailgate Burgers

Rich, Creamy Mushroom Sauce. Pepper Jack Cheese. Juicy Hamburger. Soft, Fresh Pretzel Bun.

Are you drooling yet? It’s ok, your secret’s safe with me. These burgers, with their amazing mushroom awesome-sauce deserve nothing less. It’s the highest compliment this recipe could hope to achieve. That and plates licked clean. Just one bite, and you’ll see. And trust me, these will definitely ‘knock your socks off!’

Seriously, what more could you want in a burger? This is totally indulgent and just screams ‘GAME DAY’ or ‘dude’ food. Just be careful not to indulge in them too often, or they might just ruin a burger for you if it’s served up any other way.

‘Knock Your Socks Off’ Tailgate Burgers

 Pepper Jack Pretzel Bun Burgers with Mushroom Cream Sauce

1 lb ground beef
6 full-size of 12 mini pretzel rolls
6 slices pepper jack cheese, cut in half to make 12 pieces if using slider-sized buns
mayonnaise to spread over the inside of the rolls

Mushroom sauce
8 oz thinly sliced mushrooms
3 tbsp butter
2 tbsp minced garlic or 4 garlic cloves minced
1/2 cup diced white onion
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 cup heavy cream, or half and half
1/2 cup beef broth
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 tbsp cornstarch + 2 tbsp cold water, mixed together

Topping
1/2 cup butter
2 tsp poppy seeds
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Directions

  1. Divide the ground beef into 6 patties, or 12 small patties if using rolls instead of buns. In a large skillet or dutch oven, cook the patties until browned on both sides and cooked completely through. After they’re cooked, set them aside, and discard excess grease.
    2. In the same skillet, melt 3 tablespoons of butter. Add in the mushrooms and garlic, and sauté until the mushrooms are tender. Add in the Worcestershire sauce, cream, broth, salt, and pepper. Bring the sauce to a boil, stirring constantly, and then stir in the cornstarch mixture. Once the sauce has thickened, remove it from the heat and set it aside.
    3. Slice open the pretzel buns and spread some mayo over the top and bottoms of each bun. Place the cooked patties on the bottom of bun and add the pepper jack cheese on top. Spoon a generous amount of the mushroom sauce over the top of each patty and replace the top of the bun. Put the assembled burger in a greased 9 x 13 baking dish. Melt the 1/2 cup of butter for the topping and stir in the poppy seeds and Worcestershire sauce. Spoon the melted butter over the top of the sliders. Cover the dish tightly with foil and bake at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes. Serve hot.

recipe adapted from Knock Your Socks Off Tailgate Sliders

California Dogs

Today we’ve got another recipe for another quintessential ‘kid’ favorite, the hot dog. Who else loved these things? Lunch or dinner, serve ’em up slapped on a good bun with a healthy bit of ketchup, and we were in heaven.

Bacon Wrapped California Dogs 4

But as an adult, ketchup and mustard can get a little boring. No worries, the unexpected hot dog toppings in this rendition are certainly something to relish.

Bacon Wrapped California Dogs

These California-inspired dogs have graduated right along with us, taking the treat from nostalgic kid-fair and graduating into full-blown adult territory.

Bacon Wrapped California Dogs 2

Wrapped in bacon and then cooked to perfect hotdog/crisp bacon skin perfection, they’re then (best) served on your favorite bun, and topped with store-bought (or fresh) guacamole, with a hearty ‘sprinkle’ of your favorite shredded Monterey Jack cheese.

Bacon Wrapped California Dogs 3

Who said our childhood favorites couldn’t grow up too?

California Dogs

Bacon Wrapped California Dogs 4

1 to 8 all-beef hot dogs

1 to 8 Slices uncured bacon
1 to 8 hot dog buns
guacamole, homemade or store-bought, whichever you prefer
Monterey Jack, or pepper jack cheese, shredded

Directions

  1. Wrap one slice of bacon around each hot dog and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes. We put our hot dogs on our cooling racks, set on top of a baking sheet, to catch the grease, and have the, get crisp since they won’t be sitting in said bacon grease.
    2. Place the cooked hot dog in a bun and top with guacamole and generous sprinkle of the shredded cheese.
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