Creamy, Dreamy Chili Mac & Cheese Casserole


Chili Mac & Cheese

I decided since I was off work today, and it was a long & grueling week due to our fiscal year-end crunch, some comfort food was definitely in order. I was thrilled and honored when I was asked by Ragú® earlier this week to create my own spin on their Chili Mac recipe, so I chose to add the ooey-gooey goodness of cheese, both Colby Jack and cream cheese, in addition to some sautéed chopped onions, to turn it into a hearty, creamy casserole masterpiece. This is serious comfort food at its best! If you’re a meat eater, and enjoy mac and cheese, you will truly love this dish!

Feel free to substitute cheddar if you’d prefer, and/or to turn up the heat on this dish, you can increase the chili powder to two tablespoons or add some red pepper flakes.

Tra-Dish Logo

Were you aware that each jar of Ragú® Old World Style® Traditional Sauce is made with 11 juicy tomatoes making it its richest, thickest recipe. Ragú® has the Authentic Italian taste American family’s love and a variety of great tasting, quick and easy-to-make family favorite recipes. Visit Facebook.com/RaguSauce for additional quick, easy and delicious recipe ideas. Also visit www.RaguSweeps.com to enter the Ragú Better and Better Sweepstakes for a chance to win great Authentic Italian themed prizes and a grand prize trip to Venice for a family of four.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups elbow macaroni, cooked & drained
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1 lb. lean ground beef
  • 1 jar (1 lb. 8 oz.) Ragu® Old World Style® Traditional Pasta Sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. chili powder
  • 2 oz. reduced fat cream cheese
  • 2 1/2 cups Colby Jack cheese, shredded
  • Salt & pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Cook macaroni according to package instructions.
  3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, and cook onions for five minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add ground beef and cook until browned, stirring and breaking up into small pieces.
  5. Stir in pasta sauce, chili powder, and salt and pepper, and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes, covered.
  6. Stir in cream cheese until blended, then add cooked pasta, and 1 cup of Colby Jack cheese, and mix until well incorporated.
  7. Transfer mixture to a 9×13 baking dish, and cook in oven for 15 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.
  8. Remove dish from oven, sprinkle with remaining shredded cheese, and place back in the oven for about 5 minutes, until cheese begins to melt.
  9. Cool for 5 minutes before serving.
  10. Enjoy!

Creamy Chili Mac & Cheese Casserole

Top ↑

Baked BLT Dip


BLT Dip

I stumbled across a couple of recipes for this dip on Super Bowl weekend, and being a lover of the infamous BLT, I just had to try it. I took things from both recipes I found, and combined them to make a scrumptious appetizer. I substituted Greek yogurt for sour cream to make this a tad healthier, and if you want to further reduce calories and fat content, you can cut the mayo in half to just a half of a cup, which will produce a bit thicker of a dip (but still yummy).

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. bacon, cooked, drained, crumbled & divided
  • 1 pkg. (8 oz.) cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup light mayonnaise
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 Roma tomatoes (or 1 large regular), seeded, chopped & divided
  • 1/4 cup green onions, chopped
  • 1 cup shredded iceberg or romaine lettuce

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F degrees.
  2. Set aside ½ cup crumbled bacon.
  3. Mix mayonnaise, greek yogurt, and cream cheese in a bowl until thoroughly combined. Crumble bacon into mixture and stir.
  4. Add cheddar cheese, green onions, garlic powder, and one tomato, mix well.
  5. Spoon mixture into a shallow dish or pie pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or until bubbling.
  6. Sprinkle chopped tomatoes, remaining crumbled bacon, lettuce and green onions over hot dip.
  7. Serve immediately with your favorite crackers or chips.

BLT Dip 3

Top ↑

Cocktail Meatballs


Cocktail Meatbals

First, I would like to wish everyone a very Happy New Year. I haven’t posted a recipe since November, and apologize for my absence, but am back with a very easy and delicious appetizer just in time for the Super Bowl tomorrow (go Broncos), which I found on the back of the Ocean Spray cranberry sauce can (also on the back of the Heinz chili sauce jar). I’ve actually made these cocktail meatballs three times over the past couple of months (today being the fourth), with all of them being just slightly different in taste (and heat) because of the chili sauce I used. I’m giving you the recipe for the mild one as it is “kid friendly”, but will also provide some modification ideas to spice it up. These can be made either on top of the stove or in a crock pot, the latter being a smarter choice if you’re having or bringing to a party. In the interest of time, I’m using frozen, pre-cooked meatballs, but feel free to make your own.

Meatballs CookingIngredients

  • 1 14-oz. can Ocean Spray Jellied Cranberry Sauce
  • 1 12-oz. bottle Heinz Chili Sauce
  • 1 2-lb. bag frozen, pre-cooked, cocktail-size meatballs, homestyle (not Italian!)
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar (optional)

Directions

  1. Combine sauces in a large saucepan.
  2. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring until smooth.
  3. Add meatballs. Cover and cook for 15 minutes or until meatballs are heated through, stirring occasionally.

Slow cooker preparation: Place meatballs in a slow cooker. Combine sauces and pour over meatballs. Cover and cook 4 hours on HIGH.

The sweet chili sauce and the chili garlic sauce will add some heat!
The sweet chili sauce and the chili garlic sauce will add some heat!

Modifications to spice up the meatballs: If you desire a serious kick, skip the Heinz chili sauce, and use 6 oz. (3/4 cup) each of the sweet chili sauce and chili garlic sauce pictured above . For just a little spiciness (which I made today), use 11 oz. (a little less than 1 1/2 cups) of the Heinz and 2 tbsp. of the chili garlic sauce.

Cocktail Meatballs Plated

 

Top ↑

Slow Cooker Beef Ribs – Set It & Forget It


Slow Cooker Beef Ribs

I fully realize this is my third recipe for boneless beef ribs, but figure everyone can use another great and easy crock pot recipe, right? This literally takes about ten minutes to throw everything together prior to cooking. The sauce is just slightly different from my other recipes, but equally as delicious. You can use your favorite barbecue sauce, but I think homemade is always better. A lot of people like searing their ribs prior to cooking them (including me) as it gives a nice, caramelized crust, but it’s not a “must-do”. I’ve including the instructions on how to do that, but feel free to skip it if you desire.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. Chuck boneless beef short ribs
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 3 oz. (half can) tomato paste
  • 6 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. honey
  • 1 tbsp. molasses
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion (or 1 tsp. onion powder)
  • 1 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil (if searing the ribs)

Directions

  1. Heat 2 tbsp. olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat
  2. Season ribs with salt & pepper, and sear on both sides until lightly browned.
  3. Mix all ingredients in crock pot until brown sugar & salt are dissolved.
  4. Add ribs & stir to coat. Cover and cook on low for 7 hours or high for 4.

Top ↑

Lean Crescent Taco Pie


Crescent Taco Pie

I regularly receive emails from Pillsbury, and after seeing a yummy one for a Crescent Taco Bake, I decided to buy the few (missing) ingredients I needed. I made some modifications, like I normally do, to make this a bit healthier/lighter and added a couple of ingredients I thought would increase the tasty factor; however, you can omit these if you choose. This is a good basic recipe which can be suited to your own preference, if you have a favorite way to make tacos. Feel free to add jalapeños, beans (refried or black), onions, etc.

Ingredients

  • 1 can (8 oz) Pillsbury refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
  • 1 lb. lean (at least 90%) ground beef
  • 3/4 cup salsa (I use medium heat)
  • 2 tbsp. taco seasoning mix (from 1-oz package)
  • 1/2 can Rotel Mexican Lime & Cilantro (optional)
  • 1 cup light shredded Cheddar cheese
  • Shredded lettuce, (optional)
  • Diced tomato, as desired
  • Black olives, as desired
  • Avocado slices/cubes (optional)
  • Greek yogurt (optional)

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 375°F. Unroll dough; separate into 8 triangles. Place in ungreased 9-inch square pan or 10-inch pie plate; press over bottom and up sides to form crust. (I had some overlapping, so removed and threw away some of the dough.)
  2. In 10-inch skillet, cook beef over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thoroughly cooked; drain. Stir in salsa, Rotel (if using) and taco seasoning mix; simmer 5 minutes.
  3. Spoon meat mixture in crust-lined pan; sprinkle with cheese.
  4. Bake 18 minutes or until crust is deep golden brown and cheese is melted.
  5. Serve topped with diced tomato, black olives and lettuce (if desired), and avocado and plain greek yogurt on the side.

Taco Bake

 

Top ↑

Boneless Beef Ribs – Version 2 (Winner)


Boneless Beef Ribs

Over the weekend, I stopped into Von’s Supermarket on my way back from a fabulous trip to my hair salon in West Hollywood to solely pick up some sushi (they make it fresh), and while there, decided to look for more boneless beef ribs. I saw some that seemed to be a great deal (a pound for just a little over $3), so threw ’em in my basket (no brainer). As much as I enjoyed the ribs and loved the BBQ sauce I made last weekend from Sunny Andersen’s recipe, I wanted to try something different. I found a recipe by Tyler Florence, whom I love (in a chefy kinda way), and know his recipes rock, so thought I’d try it out. It calls for parboiling the ribs, which I’ve never done before, but was excited to try something new. When I started making this, I realized I didn’t have two ingredients the recipe calls for… tomato paste and brown mustard, so improvised using ketchup and course Dijon mustard. Even with my slight modifications, it turned out AMAZING, and in my opinion, much better than my other recipe (maybe because of the cooking method?). All I know is, these are the most tender, delicious boneless short ribs I’ve tasted, so are a clear winner in my book (no offense to Sunny). I’m posting the original recipe so you have it, but if you want to use my substitutions, rest assured, it’ll turn out scrumptious!

Ingredients

  • 4 lbs. boneless beef short ribs
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/4 cup brown mustard
  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 2 1/2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. butter, melted
  • 1/2 tbsp. molasses
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp. granulated onion
  • 1/2 tbsp. granulated garlic
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  1. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.
  2. Add the ribs, garlic clove and bay leaf. Parboil the ribs, covered, for 30-45 minutes, until fork tender.
  3. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  4. In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients (except ribs, bay leaf & garlic clove).
  5. Pour 1/2 cup of the rib water into the mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for approximately 15 minutes until the sauce has thickened and is heated through.
  6. Add the ribs to the pot, turning with tongs to coat well. Season with salt and pepper.
  7. Transfer the ribs to a baking dish, and add a little bit of the sauce.
  8. Cook in oven to finish for approximately 20 minutes.
  9. Serve with remaining sauce on the side, if desired.
Shown with zucchini, grape tomatoes, avocado, cilantro and goat cheese salad topped with a honey balsamic vinaigrette.
Shown with zucchini, grape tomatoes, avocado, cilantro and goat cheese salad topped with a honey balsamic vinaigrette.

Tip: To reheat ribs, remove from refrigerator and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 250°F, and coat with some leftover sauce. If you don’t have any remaining sauce, use another sauce of your choice and wrap in foil. Place in oven and cook for about 30 minutes.

Top ↑

Boneless BBQ Short Ribs


BBQ Short Ribs

Last weekend, we celebrated my Mom’s birthday at a fabulous restaurant in El Segundo called Paul Martin’s. My Mom ordered their short ribs, and much to my good fortune, she wasn’t able to finish them, so I got to take the leftovers home. All I have to say is… WOW… incredibly delicious! I decided to pick up some short ribs and see how they’d turn out making them myself. I found a BBQ recipe by Sunny Andersen which looked great and received wonderful reviews so went with that one. As many of you know, I generally alter/modify recipes I find, but decided to follow it exactly as written, with the only exception being using regular paprika instead of Hungarian paprika and adding some chopped onions to the baking dish. Well, I’m happy to report the hype was true… this turned out scrumptious, and the barbecue sauce is over-the-top!!!!

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. boneless beef short ribs, cut into 3-inch long pieces
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar (I added a little more for extra sweetness)
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. dried ground thyme
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 tbsp. white vinegar
  • 1/2 tbsp. yellow mustard
  • 1/2 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 300° F.
  2. Arrange the short ribs in a medium size baking dish and season with salt and pepper.
  3. In a small bowl, combine all the remaining ingredients and stir to incorporate.
  4. Pour the sauce over ribs and toss well, coating all the pieces.
  5. Cover with aluminum foil and roast until cooked through and tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Remove the foil during the last 30 minutes of cooking to brown the top.
  6. Remove from oven and serve.

Top ↑

Chuck Blade Steaks With Herb Wine Sauce


Chuck Blade Steak with Herb Wine Sauce

I’ve never made Chuck/Blade steaks before, but picked some up at the grocery store yesterday as I like to switch things up from time to time, and venture out of my comfort zone. I found an old recipe from Gourmet which looked appealing, so gave it a try. To be honest, this isn’t my favorite steak dish of all time, but I thought it was really good!

Ingredients

  • 4 (1/2-inch-thick) top chuck blade steaks (18 oz)
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 3 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3 tbsp. fresh chives, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp. fresh parsley, finely chopped

Directions

  1. Pat steaks dry and sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.
  2. Heat 1 tbsp. butter and oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté steaks 3-4 minutes per side for medium.
  3. Transfer steaks with tongs to a plate and keep warm, loosely covered.
  4. Add remaining 2 tbsp. butter to skillet and cook shallot over moderate heat, stirring, until softened, about 2 minutes.
  5. Remove skillet from heat and carefully add wine and any meat juices that have accumulated on plate with steaks.
  6. Simmer until reduced by half, about 3 minutes.
  7. Remove from heat and stir in herbs and salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Serve steaks with sauce poured over.

Top ↑

Horseradish Crusted Beef


Horseradish Crusted London Broil

For some unknown reason, I decided to pick up a London Broil when I was at the store a few weeks ago, even though I had never made it before, and usually choose other cuts of beef. I already had the idea of using a horseradish crust, and wanted to see how it’d turn out with this type of meat. Well… it was absolutely fantastic and I loved the flavor of the crust! This can be used on your favorite type of meat, and would also be great on chicken.

Ingredients

  • 1 (2 lb.) London Broil
  • 1/4 cup panko
  • 1/4 cup potato chips, crushed
  • 1 tbsp. + 2 tsp. olive oil
  • 2 tsp. fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 tbsp. prepared horseradish
  • 2 tbsp. chopped fresh herbs (pick your favorites… I used Parsley, Thyme and Oregano)
  • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard

Directions

  1. Sprinkle beef with 1 tbsp. salt, cover with plastic wrap, and let stand at room temperature 1 hour or refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400°F.
  2. Toss panko with 2 tsp. oil, and 1/4 tsp. pepper in skillet.
  3. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until deep golden brown, 3 to 5 minutes.
  4. Transfer to bowl, add crushed potato chips and toss with shallot, garlic, 2 tbsp. horseradish and herbs.
  5. Pat exterior of beef dry with paper towels and sprinkle evenly with remaining fresh cracked black pepper.
  6. Heat 1 tbsp. oil in skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Sear tenderloin until well browned on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to wire rack set in rimmed baking sheet and let rest 10 minutes.
  7. Combine 1 tbsp. horseradish, and mustard in small bowl.
  8. Spread horseradish & mustard on top and sides of meat, leaving bottom and ends bare.
  9. Roll coated sides of meat in bread-crumb mixture, pressing gently so crumbs adhere in an even layer.
  10. Return tenderloin to wire rack. Roast until instant-read thermometer inserted into center of roast registers 120 to 125°F for medium-rare, 25 to 30 minutes.
  11. Transfer roast to carving board and let rest 20 minutes.
  12. Carefully cut meat crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices.
With Baked Mashed Potatoes and Sautéed Kale
With Baked Mashed Potatoes and Sautéed Kale

 Top ↑

Unsloppy Joes


I saw a commercial a few days ago for Pillsbury Grands Biscuits and this recipe, and knew I had to try it since Sloppy Joes were a staple when I was growing up (thanks Mom!). I still love them, but nowadays, I make them from scratch… most of the time. If I’m pinched for time, or simply being lazy (it happens), then I turn to my trusted Manwich Sloppy Joe sauce. With that being said, this old-school recipe taken to a new level, uses the canned sauce so it can prepared in a flash, which makes it perfect for a weeknight or when time is of the essence.

Make sure to scroll to the bottom for an additional way to make these 🙂

Unsloppy Joes

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. lean ground beef, cooked, drained
  • 1 can (15 oz) Manwich sloppy joe sauce
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 can (16.3 oz) Pillsbury® Grands!® refrigerated biscuits
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese (2 oz)

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 375° F.
  2. In large skillet, cook ground beef over medium-high heat until beef is thoroughly cooked, stirring frequently; drain.
  3. Stir in sauce and chili powder; simmer 5 minutes.
  4. Cut biscuit in half and press bottom into 6-inch round.
  5. Spoon 1/3 cup meat mixture and about 1 tbsp. cheese onto center of each round.
  6. Take top half of biscuit and press it out so it’s approximately the same size as the bottom, and place over filling; press sides to seal. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.
  7. Bake 9 to 14 minutes or until golden brown.

* If you want it saucier, use only 3/4 lb. beef. To add a little heat, if you so desire, add a skosh of cayenne pepper to the sauce. Also, feel free to add a bit of onion and/or garlic powder while cooking the beef. 

Another idea, which I think is really cute & just came up with, is making this a muffin. Simply cut the biscuit in half, spread the dough out enough so when you put it in the muffin tin, the sides go up to the top, then fill with sloppy joe and top with some cheese.

Sloppy Joe Muffin

 

If you have any leftover Sloppy Joe, put it into muffin cups, stick the pan in the freezer until frozen, remove from pan, place into a ziplock bag & return to freezer. Each frozen sloppy joe “muffin” should be equivalent to a single serving when defrosted and reheated.

Top ↑