Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Free Recipe Wednesday! (Ultimate Party Meatballs)

It's Wednesday.... again!  Don't the days just seem to fly by?  Maybe it's just me.  On a side note, did you catch the first episode of the new season of Master Chef last week?  It looks like this season will be good.  Last year I just couldn't get into the show but it looks like there's actually a little talent this season. Also, the new season of Hell's Kitchen starts on July 19th, just a little over a month away!  I'm looking forward to that one.

Ok, on to today's free recipe.  Today's free recipe is Ultimate Party Meatballs and it's SUPER simple.  The recipe for this dish can actually be found on the back of the can of Ocean Spray Jellied Cranberry Sauce as well as on the bottle of Heinz Chili Sauce, both of which are ingredients in the recipe. A coworker made this a couple of times for our monthly "Food Day" here at work and I have made it several times myself.  The nice thing is that you can do this all in a crock pot if you're planning to take them somewhere.  These meatballs are really really good especially considering how simple they are to make.  Give it a try and let me know what you think.

Ultimate Party Meatballs

  • 1 16oz can Ocean Spray Jellied Cranberry Sauce
  • 1 12oz bottle Heinz Chili Sauce
  • 1 2lb bag frozen, pre-cooked, cocktail-size meatballs

Combine sauces in a large saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring until smooth. You could also do this in a crock pot.

Add meatballs. Cover and cook for 15 minutes or until meatballs are heated through, stirring occasionally.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Double Free Recipe Wednesday! (Pretzel Turtles and Buffalo Wing Dip)

Hello again food lovers!  Today is another DOUBLE Free Recipe Wednesday due to the lack of a free recipe last Wednesday.  Hopefully everyone had a great Memorial Day weekend and didn't get into too much trouble! :-)

Both of today's recipes come from my co-workers.  We had our monthly food day, in celebration of the birthdays for May, a couple weeks ago and both of these dishes were brought and were amazing!  Coincidentally one recipe is a sweet treat and the other is a savory dish so it's a nice combo. The first recipe is called Pretzel Turtle and is a super easy treat to make. Pretzel, chocolate, caramel, and pecan .... how can you go wrong with that?  The second recipe is a Buffalo Wing Dip. This dish may not be for everyone but it's certainly fantastic for Buffalo Wing lovers. There is blue cheese dressing in this recipe but don't worry if you're not a fan of blue cheese because you can barely taste it and it blends well with the other ingredients.  It's all the deliciousness of eating Buffalo Wings without getting your fingers and mouth messy!

Pretzel Turtles
  • 20 Small Pretzel Squares
  • 20 Chocolate Covered Caramel Candies (such as Rolo)
  • 20 Pecan Halves
Arrange pretzels on a cookie sheet lightly sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Place one chocolate covered candy on top of each pretzel. Place one pecan half on top of each candy. Bake at 300 degrees for 4 minutes. Remove from the oven and while the chocolate is still warm press down on the pecan to flatten the candy a bit.  Let cool and enjoy!

Buffalo Wing Dip
  • 1 8oz pkg Cream Cheese
  • ½ cup Blue Cheese Dressing
  • ½ cup Sweet Baby Ray’s Hot Sauce
  • 1 stalk Celery, chopped
  • 2 cups shredded Chicken (can, rotisserie or chicken breast)
Combine all ingredients in a sauce pan or crock pot.  Heat through and enjoy.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Free Recipe Wednesday! (Poblano Cream Sauce)

It's time once again for Free Recipe Wednesday!  Where has the week gone?  More importantly, is anyone else as excited as I am about the upcoming Memorial Day Weekend?

Today's free recipe is Poblano Cream Sauce and let me just say you're in for a treat with this one.  I found this recipe online as a sauce to be used on burritos or enchiladas but after making it I discovered it has way more uses. It is a delicious sauce that is good on just about everything.  I personally use this sauce as a base for my Parmesan Chicken Pizza instead of regular pizza sauce and it's amazing.  I've also had it poured over grilled chicken as well as put it on a regular meat and cheese sandwich.  It adds a wonderful new dimension of flavor to any dish!  Give it a try, it's a fantastic sauce!

Poblano Cream Sauce
  • 6 Poblano Chiles
  • 1 cup Chicken Broth
  • 3/4 cup Butter
  • 1/2 pkg (8 oz) Cream Cheese, Softened
  • 1/2 cup (2 oz) Shredded Cheddar Cheese

Place chiles on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet and broil 3 inches from heat 8-10 minutes on each side until charred. Place chiles in a heavy-duty zip-lock plastic bag, seal, and let stand 10 minutes to loosen skins. Peel and seed chiles.

Combine chiles and broth in a blender or food processor; process until smooth.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat; stir in chile mixture. Add cream cheese and cheddar cheese, stirring constantly.  Cook 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly, until cheese is fully melted.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Hog and Sauce BBQ!

Today's post is a review of a little BBQ joint that's fairly new.  This place, Hog and Sauce BBQ, is about as small as the come.  It's a long narrow building with a drive-thru window on both sides.  (At one point it was a drive-thru espresso shop that I unfortunately never got to try.)  At the back of the building is a fenced in area where they keep the smoker, which is always billowing wonderful smokey smells into the air.  This place has been there for the better part of a year - on East Sunshine next to a Kum N Go for those who live in Springfield - and two nights ago was my first time trying them despite the fact that I can see the place from the upstairs window of my townhouse. It was actually the fact that Burger King next door, which I had planned on having for dinner, has closed up for good that forced me to try Hog and Sauce BBQ and I'm glad I did. What I ended up ordering was the Jumbo Pulled Pork "Sandwich" and the potato salad.  I'll get into why the word sandwich is in quotes in a minute but first let me talk about the potato salad.

Click image to enlarge!

What you see above is hands down the best potato salad I've ever eaten.  I usually prefer mayo based potato salad as opposed to mustard based so I asked the guy working the window which one theirs is to which he replied that they use both in theirs and that I'll really like it.  What he didn't tell me, which was a fantastic surprise, is that they also put small bits of smoked meat in their potato salad.  Without being too cheesy here let me just say .... OMG! When I took the lid off the container I could immediately smell a slight aroma of smokiness and knew I was going to like this potato salad. The combination of the mayo and mustard was just right and not too tangy.  That combo along with the pickles, potatoes, seasoning and smoked meat was just out of this world.  I actually finished the potato salad before I even unwrapped the "sandwich" and I think I could have just gotten a bigger container of the potato salad and had that by itself for dinner. 

Click image to enlarge!

Now, what you see above is the Jumbo Pulled Pork "Sandwich".  As you might have guessed from the picture, I've been using quotes around the word sandwich because it's not really a sandwich but more like a burrito.  On their menu Hog and Sauce BBQ mentions they are the "home of the pita-que" and that is why their "sandwich" is served like this.  At first glance you might think this looks like a wheat tortilla they're using but it's actually a tiny bit thicker, though not as thick as actual pita bread, and tastes just like pita bread. It's interesting and although I really enjoyed the overall "sandwich", I think I would have preferred it on a regular bun or kaiser roll. The pulled pork itself was excellent.  Unlike the dry pulled pork, which has to be doused with loads of BBQ sauce just to get it down, that you get from other BBQ joints, the pulled pork here was juicy as well as tender and perfectly smoked. While the "sandwich" did have BBQ sauce on it, it was not overpowering and you could still enjoy the wonderful flavor of the meat itself while getting the perfect amount of the nice sweet mild flavored sauce to go with it.

Overall I was really pleased with what I got from Hog and Sauce BBQ and will definitely go back.  In addition to the pulled pork they also have smoked beef (which I'm assuming is brisket), smoked chicken, and Nathan's hot dogs as well as your typical baked beans and a small kids menu.  Fridays and Saturdays they do ribs which I'm really looking forward to trying next. There's plenty of choices to please anyone who enjoys a good smoked BBQ lunch or dinner. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Double Free Recipe Wednesday! (Fire-Roasted Tomato & Bacon Dip and Toffee Pecan Chex Mix)

If you're a follower of my blog you know that I post a new free recipe every Wednesday.  As you might have noticed, I didn't post a free recipe last Wednesday.  It was a busy week so I didn't really have time to post a new recipe.  I was planning to go ahead and post it on Thursday but then blogger had issues and no one could post anything.  With that all being said, today is officially Double Free Recipe Wednesday!  2 for 1, what a deal!

Recipe #1
The first recipe I have for you today is my Fire-Roasted Tomato & Bacon Dip.  This is actually my own recipe.  Most creamy dips have some sort of Mayo and/or Sour Cream base so I went with both and then I experimented with other ingredients and seasonings to get to this.  The only problem I have currently is that it is a little on the thin side but after sitting in the fridge overnight it does thicken up a little bit.  I'm working on a fix right now to make the dip a little thicker.  If you have any ideas, please feel free to post feedback. The dip is delicious none the less so give it a try and let me know what you think. Recipe #2 follows after this one.

Fire-Roasted Tomato & Bacon Dip
  • 1 cup Mayo
  • 1 cup Sour Cream
  • 2-3 thin green onions, chopped
  • 1 pkg (2.5-3oz) Real Bacon Pieces
  • 1 can diced Fire-Roasted Tomatoes, well drained and chopped
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1 tsp Garlic Powder
Combine Mayo, Sour Cream, Green Onions, Paprika, and Garlic Powder in a bowl and mix together.  Add drained and chopped Fire-Roasted Tomatoes and Real Bacon pieces. Mix everything thoroughly and refrigerate several hours or overnight for best flavor. Dip will thicken a little when refrigerated.

TIP: The dip is on the thin side to begin with so drain the tomatoes real well and then after you chop them add them back to the strainer and drain them again.

Recipe #2
Today's second recipe is Toffee Pecan Chex Mix. This is a fairly simple recipe and is a delicious snack. It's great for family get-togethers, work parties, or just as a snack at home. You can really use just about any kind of nut in this recipe but I find that pecans give it the best flavor. Give it a try and as always let me know what you think. 

Toffee Pecan Chex Mix
  • 6 Cups Chex Mix (2 Cups each kind)
  • 2 Cups Pecans
  • 3/4 Cup Melted Butter
  • 3/4 Cup Packed Brown Sugar

Combine Chex Mix and Pecans thoroughly in a large bowl. Place the Melted Butter and Brown Sugar in a saucepan and bring to a rolling boil for 2 minutes. Remove saucepan from heat and quickly stir mixture into the bowl with the Chex and Pecans. Spread the contents of the bowl onto a cookie sheet and bake at 360 degrees for 8 minutes stirring half way through to prevent sticking. Timing depends on the oven so you may have to bake longer than 8 minutes, just taste them each time you stir so you don’t accidentally burn them.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Free Recipe Wednesday! (Knorr Spinach Dip)

Once again it's Wednesday so it's time for Free Recipe Wednesday.  Where has the week gone?  More importantly, what happened to the weekend?  I feel like I missed it. Today's free recipe is Knorr Spinach Dip and it can actually be found on the back of the package of Knorr brand Vegetable Soup Mix, which just so happens to be an ingredient needed to make this dip.  I've been making this spinach dip for nearly 10 years and it's absolutely delicious, not to mention easy to make.  It's a cold spinach dip and is excellent served with corn tortilla chips or even that Hawaiian sweet bread you can get in the Wal-Mart deli area.  Give this dip a try, take it to a family get-together or to the office, I guarantee it'll be a hit.

Knorr Spinach Dip
  • 1 10oz package frozen spinach, thawed and drained well
  • 1 cup (8oz) mayonnaise
  • 2 cups (16oz) sour cream
  • 1 16oz can of water chestnuts, coarsely chopped
  • 3 green onions, chopped
  • 1 package Knorr Vegetable Soup Mix
Mix everything together (best if refrigerated overnight for flavors to blend)

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Thai Xpress

Today's blog is a review of a couple items I had at Thai Xpress (here in Springfield, MO) the other day.  I've eaten at Thai Xpress many times and although I'm not a huge fan of Thai food, I've been impressed with everything I've eaten there.  This restaurant is a small place but it has been featured in our local newspaper and gets rave reviews all over the internet. The cuisine is a nice mix of Thai and Chinese food but there is definitely an emphasis on the Thai food on the menu.  Today's review is a combination of both types with the first item being the Combo (Shrimp/Crab) Fried Rice and the second item being Thai Sweet Iced Tea.

Click to Enlarge

Let me start out by saying that the Combo (Shrimp/Crab) Fried Rice, seen above, was much better than I could have ever expected.  I love seafood but I rarely get it in fried rice.  It could be that I've just grown up eating chicken or beef fried rice so that's what I always get.  No matter the reason, I got it this time and was happy I did.  The shrimp were nice and big as were the chunks of crab meat.  I felt the amount they put in the fried rice was very proportionate and I was able to get a little seafood with each bite.  Towards the end of eating the dish I initially was disappointed because I still had a little rice left and no seafood but as I continued eating the rice I found little hidden morsels of crab meat mixed in which was very satisfying.  Overall, I thought the dish was very tasty and well priced.  Definitely worth trying and I will certainly order this again.

Click To Enlarge

What you see above is Thai Sweet Iced Tea.  It's orange in color, which is interesting when you first order one of these, but it is oh so delicious.  First thing to know is that Thai tea is different than the traditional tea made here in the US.  They have their own special tea plants in Thailand which is where they get this special brew.  It has a very good, strong tea flavor.  The key to a Thai Iced Tea though, and the reason the tea is orange in color, is the addition of half and half or any other type of creamer to the tea.  This combination of the unique, very sweet, Thai tea and cream makes for a drink that is out of this world.  I have to order one of these every time I go and I recommend it to everyone I talk to when the conversation of Thai food comes up. If you ever find yourself at a Thai restaurant and see Thai Sweet Tea on the menu, give it a try, you won't be disappointed.

Overall, Thai Xpress is an amazing place to eat. Other dishes I've tried there include the Curry as well as the Peanut Chicken which is amazing.  Other popular, recommended dishes, that I will try someday include the Boom Chicken, Jerry Chicken, and the Royal Chicken.  If you live in Springfield or ever travel here you definitely need to check this place out.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Free Recipe Wednesday! (Sausage Wonton Stars)

It's that time of the week.  Free Recipe Wednesday is here!  Today's recipe is for Sausage Wonton Stars.  These are delicious and simple to make.  The picture below is some that I made without any of the veggies in it.  They're good both way.  A co-worker brought these to one of our monthly "food days" and since then I've made them for several family get-togethers.  They're a big hit that I get requests for a lot.  Give them a try and you'll see what I mean!  Enjoy!

Coming soon: Thai Xpress Review (Shrimp/Crab fried rice and Thai Sweet Iced Tea)!

Sausage Wonton Stars

  • 1 pkg (12oz) Wonton Wrappers
  • 1 lb Bulk Pork Sausage
  • 2 cups (8oz) Shredded Colby Cheese
  • ½ Medium Green Pepper, chopped
  • ½ Medium Sweet Red Pepper, chopped
  • 2 bunches green onions, sliced
  • ½ cup Ranch Salad Dressing

Lightly press wonton wrappers onto the bottom and up the sides of greased miniature muffin cups. Bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes or until edges are browned.

In a large skillet, cook sausage over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Stir in cheese, peppers, onions, and salad dressing. Spoon a rounded tablespoonful into each wonton cup. Bake for 6-7 minutes or until heated through. Yield: about 4 dozen.

Nutrition Facts: 1 serving (3 each) equals 215 calories, 14g fat (5g saturated fat), 27mg cholesterol, 384mg sodium, 14g carbohydrate, 1g fiber, 8g protein.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Free Recipe Wednesday! (Mexican Corn Dip)

Over the years I have collected many recipes.  Some are recipes I've found and tried, some are recipes I've found but have yet to try, and some are recipes of dishes that co-workers have brought in to work that I really enjoyed.

With that being said, starting today I will be adding a new feature to my blog which I am calling "Free Recipe Wednesday".  If everything works according to plan I will be posting a new free recipe every Wednesday.  If I happen to have a picture to go along with it I will post that as well.

Today's recipe is a Mexican Corn Dip that I discovered in a community newsletter years ago.  I made this dip for our monthly "food day" where I work and it's been a big hit.  I get requests for this often and it's so simple to make.  This is a great "picnic" or "family reunion" type of dish but is great for all occasions.  Enjoy and please let me know what you think if you make it!

Mexican Corn Dip

  • 36oz corn, drained (about 2 ½ cans of corn)
  • 1 can chopped green chilies
  • 1 or 2 whole jalapenos, seeded and chopped
  • 10 oz Sharp Cheddar (or American) cheese, shredded
  • (NOT the finely shredded stuff)
  • 6 thin green onions, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp cumin
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • ¾ cup REAL mayonnaise
  • Optional: 1 cup chopped walnuts (this is from the original recipe – I’ve never tried it)

Combine all ingredients well in a large bowl. The dip is better if chilled overnight or for several hours before serving to allow the flavors to blend.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Deep Fried Goodness!

So not long ago I was watching a show on Food Network - I believe is was a Unique Eats episode - and they were talking about this restaurant that deep fried everything.  They even talked about some of the things they have tried to deep fry in the past that weren't so successful.  After watching this I began to wonder just what types of deep fried foods are out there that I haven't tried.  I knew there was probably a lot but I was surprised and some of the uniquely odd deep fried foods I found.  Below are some pictures of what I found.  Some I have heard about and tried before and some I hadn't.  Some that sound intriguing and some not so much.  If you've ever tried any of these or have tried some interesting deep fried food that I don't have listed here, please comment and let us know.

The popular fair favorite Deep Fried Twinkie

Deep Fried Cheeseburger

Deep Fried Cadbury Creme Egg

Deep Fried Guacamole

Deep Fried Mac and Cheese Bites

Another fair favorite Deep Fried Oreos

Deep Fried PB&J Sandwich

Deep Fried Pizza

Deep Fried Hot Dogs (AKA Rippers)

Deep Fried Snickers

Deep Fried Spaghetti

Deep Fried Pickles
Deep Fried Sausage Wrapped Egg
Deep Fried Coca Cola

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Taco Wagon

If you're a lover of food, or happen to live on the west coast, you're probably familiar with the new Food Truck craze.  For those who are unaware, these are mobile trucks that travel to different locations to bring the food to the customer and serve it right from the truck.  Out west in California there are tons of these trucks that serve a great variety of food from all nationalities and they use Twitter or other social networking sites to post where they are going to be serving food that day.  Now here in Missouri it's not quite that popular but slowly catching on.  Here in Springfield we have one such truck called The Taco Wagon and my wife Laura and I decided to try it for the first time last night.  I ordered a large quesadilla (seen below) with Pastor in it.  Now this was my first time trying Pastor and I'm glad I did.  Pastor is basically shredded pork that has been marinated and cooked in seasonings and has small chunks of pineapple in it as well.  It's delicious and very unique. The quesadilla was massive and reasonably priced ($4 + $2.50 for the meat) for what you get.  The large quesadilla was huge and probably consisted of 8-10 "wedges".  I recall getting to the bottom and thinking "OK, this has got to be the last one" and then sure enough there was another wedge hiding underneath that one.  Now I'm a big 6'2" guy that can put away some serious food but this thing was a lot!  I think next time I'll probably just have the small quesadilla.

My wife decided to play it safe and ordered a small chicken quesadilla and a "walking taco".  Now I think this "walking taco" (seen below) is an ingenious idea.  Basically they take a small bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos, open it up, and add whatever meat you want plus cheese, onions, sour cream etc and serve it to you that way.  Now I've made my own taco salads using Doritos before but never directly in the bag.  It's super convenient and not to mention it's a great way of portioning food for those who might be watching their waistline. The price for the small quesadilla was $1 less that the large I ordered and the "walking taco" was $2.50 which I think is the perfect price.

Overall we both enjoyed the food a lot and also enjoyed the unique experience of ordering food from a food truck.  In addition to what we ordered they also have regular tacos and burritos as well as beverages including Mexican imported Jarritos soda.  We will definitely be going back to The Taco Wagon again and I think I'll go for the burrito next time.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Welcome to my food blog!  I know there are a lot of these food blogs out on the internet. The main difference between my blog and most of the others is that rather than focusing on one aspect of food - such as critiquing restaurants, posting recipes, etc - my blog will cover anything and everything food related.  One day I might post pictures and thoughts about a certain dish I tried at a restaurant and the next day I might post a picture and/or recipe of something I've made myself.  As a big fan of smoking meats, you're likely to see posts about my smoking experiences... especially since it's that time of year again.  Chinese food is another favorite of mine.  I live in Springfield, Missouri - where Cashew Chicken was invented - and we have a large number of Chinese restaurants as well as an ever increasing number of Japanese restaurants and a few Thai restaurants.  I have also started growing my own vegetables and this year I'm going to attempt growing jalapenos along with my tomatoes so I'll likely post about that experience as well. In general, I'm a lover of just about every kind of food imaginable so who knows what I might post.  There are multiple methods to subscribe to my blog (to the right) so please subscribe and keep updated. Thanks for visiting!