Author Archives: aparriescaldwell

Make Your Own BBQ Sauce

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As summer begins to wind down and football season begins, I’ve had a hankering for some great BBQ wings. Since I live in the desert and it’s still around 95 degrees, I want something tangy, but not too spicy. I want something thick and sweet, but garlicky and balanced.

I have tried to make my own before, but it never came out as well as when I doctored an already made sauce. A few weeks ago, I rampaged my market’s BBQ section in search of something new to try. Surely there had to be a sauce I could use out of the bottle and didn’t have to put such effort into. Well, I didn’t find it.

Undeterred, I decided to make my own. I chose not to go first to the internet or any of my recipe books, sure that I could create something I may not have thought of if I followed some other recipe.

Armed with a bottle of ketchup, some minced garlic and whatever was in my pantry and fridge, I set out on my quest. I have to say I love what resulted. I hope you love it as much as I do. Who knows, maybe your doctoring of this sauce will give you something personal and perfect and you’ll stop reaching for those bottles at the grocery.

Ingredients:
1C Ketchup
2TBSP Honey
1/4C Brown Sugar
2tsp Key Lime Habanero Sauce
3/4tsp Chili Sauce
1tsp Smoked Paprika
1tsp Onion Powder
1TBSP Minced Garlic
1/4tsp Ground Mustard
1TBSP Liquid Smoke (Hickory flavor)
1TBSP Butter
1/8C Molasses
Salt & Pepper

Directions:
1. Put all ingredients directly into a saucepan and whisk to combine.
2. Heat first on low until everything is combined and warmed through. Continue whisking every 45 seconds or so to keep sauce from sticking or burning.
3. Turn heat to med/med-low and cook for about 6-8 minutes. Sauce will thicken slightly. You really just want everything to heat and meld and for the flavors to develop. You’re not reducing or really cooking, just heating and developing.
4. Taste the sauce at about 5 minutes. If you want to add heat or sweetness now is the time. Once you are satisfied with the flavor, turn to med-high and heat until sauce begins bubbling and caramelizing as shown below.
5. Now just sauce them! This sauce will cover about 15-20 small drumettes, or 10 regular size drumettes. ENJOY!!!

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Not Your Mom’s Brussel Sprouts

IMG_5503I remember it like yesterday…. My mother poured brussel sprouts out of a freezer bag and into a steamer. She piled up a short stack next to my mashed potatoes and chicken. I remember digging in- to everything except the sprouts. I tried to drown them in mashed potatoes, but it didn’t always hide the hideous flavor.

Well, here I am 25+ years later and loving sprouts! I decided to try them, as usual, after watching numerous chefs use them in cooking shows. The first day I tried them, my husband was traveling. I was looking for something new to try and they had fresh sprouts in the produce section. I decided to buy enough to try a couple different ways.

At home, I cut my sprouts in half, or quarters for larger ones, and tossed them all in olive oil, salt and pepper. I put half in the oven and the rest in a sauté pan on the stove top. They seemed to take much longer in the oven than most of the veggies I roast, so I’ve just been cooking them stove top style. Either way, they were super delicious. I couldn’t believe I was eating brussel sprouts and loving them! What’s more, when my hubby came home I fed them to him and HE loved them.

I am always looking for great veggies to add to my repertoire. We are steak and potatoes people, but I make sure we have a veggie on the side. Brussel Sprouts don’t cost a ton of money. They are simple to cooking don’t take a lot of time or seasoning. It’s also easier to find fresh sprouts in the produce section, which allows you to hand pick the ones you want. I can get a bunch of tiny ones or fewer super large ones. As someone who’s admittedly OCD I like picking my own vegetables and not relying on a bag, when feasible.

So, here’s how I make my brussel sprouts. They’re making a serious veggie come back, and I hope you take a risk and give them a chance.

Just slice off brown bottoms and remove any bad leaves.

Just slice off brown bottoms and remove any bad leaves.

1. Examine fresh brussel sprouts for any worm holes or rotting at the bottom. Cut off stem area and remove any leaves that are not good.
2. Cut small sprouts in half and large sprouts in quarters so they are all about the same size and can cook at the same time.

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3. Put sprouts in a bowl. Drizzle with your favorite salt and pepper. I typically use kosher salt, but if you have sea salt, smoked sea salt, Fleur de Sel or any other kind, use it!
4. Drizzle a sauté pan with olive oil or spray a nonstick pan with olive oil flavored nonstick spray. You can also drizzle lightly with olive oil, but it’s already on the sprouts. Using a sauté pan is easy, but I like to use a grill pan. It makes great marks and is quick cleaning. Cook over medium heat.
5. Once you have a nice char on one side, regardless which type of pan you use, flip the sprouts. Cook on the other side. About 4-6 minutes per side. Remove and serve.

**Feel free to try these in the oven. Cut and season like above, and heat oven to 425 and roasting for about 15 minutes. Check and flip if not finished. Continue cooking until done. You can test them with a fork. They will still be sturdy, but able to pierce with a fork, just like carrots or broccoli or any other veggie you might roast.**

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I absolutely love green veggies with steak. First I only did broccoli, then, I found asparagus and fell head over heels. I actually grill and eat asparagus, on average, 3 times a week. I’m kind of addicted. Now that I’ve found brussel sprouts, though, they’ve kind of become my favorite for steak. I like their sturdiness. I think they hold up well and provide a heartiness and stiffness as well as an earthiness that other veggies may lack once cooked. I also think their flavor is such that they allow the meat to shine. I’m not even going to get into the iron and vitamins they contain.

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These are a tasty accompaniment to a beef or chicken or meaty fish. I really hope you give them a chance. Enjoy!

Making Home Made baby Food

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When I had my son I knew I wanted to make my own baby food. I did start with store-bought food first so I could gauge what he liked. Luckily for me, the kid likes everything I feed him. Bananas, peaches, apples, sweet potatoes, carrots, peas, squash, he ate it all. The only thing he doesn’t like is the baby cereal. When I did get him yo eat the oatmeal and banana cereal it constipated him. So, no more of that. I will caution anyone buying store bought food that there is some great stuff and some not so great stuff. READ THE LABEL!!! I used the Gerber Natural food for my son. For many foods it had less than 3 or 4 ingredients and some only had 2, like the squash, made of squash and water. When visiting my parents, my mother set out to get some baby food for our arrival. She was momentarily caught up in the branding and wanted to get the Gerber Organic until I made her read the label. It included gelatin, tuna fish oil and other preservatives. Please read the label.

Once I was ready to start making his food I wanted to get a specific baby food processor. It’s not necessary, but a helpful tool. I asked a friend of mine, who has a son about 6 months older than mine, what she used and she sent me a link to the Baby Brezza. There are a few different types, but the one I bought is pictured above. It was $80, and I think I’ve about gotten my money’s worth.

The Baby Brezza is super easy to use and comes with a guide and recipe book in both English and Spanish. It is a built-in steamer and food pro all in one. Here’s how I use it:

1. Peel and chop your fruits or veggies as required.
2. Place in Baby Brezza food pro cup.
3. Fill steamer with water. Add some water to the food cup if necessary. (This makes a smoother purée for younger babies. )
4. Select desired steamer time (if steaming is necessary.)
5. Blend.
6. Store in container.
7. Feed the baby.
**Always be sure to read the steam times and all directions before using.

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While you can easily lightly boil or steam and mash foods yourself, this tool makes it quick and easy to make your baby’s food. I have that baby that gets bored with any one activity after 10-15 minutes. I can peel and chop apples, banana, avocado, carrots, etc and toss them in the Brezza. The best part is I don’t have to be around while its steaming and blending. The timer takes care of it all and I can set just the steam timer, or the steam & blend timer so it does both. I like steaming because you don’t lose the nutrients like with boiling, and everything is still in the cup.

Be careful when it’s finished because the lid will be hot. I made an Apple-Cinnamon purée with Fig Jam. This was steamed for 20 minutes and I added about 1/4 cup of water to the apples before steaming. This made it pretty watery, but I wanted to add a banana to it after it blended. I’ll be posting the full recipe in the next day or so.

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For storage, I use a couple different things. I have some small, glass canning jars with lids and some plastic food storage containers with lids. Both are about 4 oz containers.

I like the plastic because they’re easy to clean and you can use a dry erase marker to label directly on the side of the container whether its hot or cold. The metal lids in the glass jars are a little tougher to write on when cold, but I tend to not have to rewrite every time I grab the jar and forget not to grab the labeled side.

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At the end of the day, this product enables me to make healthy food for my little guy, and know exactly what’s in it. It also allows me to experiment with different flavors I can’t find on the shelf, and tailor food precisely to his tastes. Something I didn’t mention was that there are plastic suction cups on the bottom of the Brezza and only 3 removable pieces (the lid, blade and cup). These pieces remove and rinse easily. That, a cutting board and a knife are all the tools you need to make great, homemade foot for your baby. What are you waiting for?

 

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Shrimp Ceviche

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For this dish I stepped, what I thought, was just outside of my comfort zone. Turns out, this dish was super easy and took as much time as it does to chop a salad.

If you’ve been following me, I’ve been working on some light and low calorie meals for my hubby. For Father’s Day I was planning on breaking several of his dietary requests, just for the day, so, somewhere I wanted to be judiciary. I finally settled on a small multi-course meal, and this dish was my opener.

Ceviche, at its base, is raw seafood cooked with citrus juices and accented by hot sauce. Often you’ll see the addition of cucumbers, corn, tomatoes, avocado, onions and other veggies and seasoning. It originates in Central and South America. When making this dish, take care in your prep. You are dealing with raw fish. There are many preparations of this dish with various seafood, veggies and seasonings. Here’s how I made mine.

Ingredients:
12 raw peeled & deveined shrimp
1/2 C lemon juice (2 lemons)
1/4 C (2 limes)
1/2 red onion, finely diced
1/2 Avocado, chopped
5 cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 cucumber, peeled and chopped
Red pepper flakes to taste, optional
Chili Sauce, optional
Salt

Directions:
(Decide how big you want your pieces. You can leave your shrimp whole and your veggies larger, or chop everything smaller. Except the red onion, just chop everything to a similar size.)

1. Chop shrimp and place in a non-reactive bowl. This means it won’t react to the acid in the citrus. A glass bowl will be fine. Add lemon and lime juice, pinch of salt and toss to coat. Refrigerate for 2 hrs.
2. Chop onion, avocado, tomatoes, and cucumber. Add to shrimp along with red pepper flakes. Toss again. If shrimp are “cooked” you may serve. Mine weren’t completely finished. How can you tell? The “cooked” shrimp will be red and white, while raw shrimp will be a grayish or bluish color. If its not finish, toss well and put it back in the fridge until done.
3. Serve. I served mine in a bed of arugula drizzled with the juice from the ceviche. Instead of incorporating my chili sauce, I dotted it around the plate and added a few sautéed scallops.

It’s easy to make this dish your own. Add other veggies, make it as spicy (or non-spicy) as you’d like. I also like thinly sliced daikon (white radish). It’s a mild flavor with a great crunch. Try serving it with crackers, in a lettuce wrap or hollow out a cucumber and load it up.

This dish proved to be super refreshing and light, and the perfect way to start our meal. It also makes a meal by itself, or a healthy snack. Enjoy!

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Whole Grain Pasta with Scallops

Scallop Pasta Dinner

This is another dinner dedicated to my wonderful calorie counting hubby. I was ready to grab a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and make a smooth, creamy, satisfying chicken bisque. I’d noticed that he hadn’t made a shake for breakfast in the morning and I knew he’d have the calories to spare. Well, he calls at lunch and says he needs something light for dinner because he’s having lunch at work. Ok, so how many calories is dinner limited to? UNDER 400!!! What am I supposed to do with that. Goodbye creamy chicken bisque. So, I started digging around the pantry looking for low calorie for him and satisfying for him.

I ended up finding some whole grain spaghetti for 180 calories a serving, some scallops for 150 calories a serving and some chicken stock for 20 calories a serving (per cup). Well, for under 400 calories per serving (this recipe feeds 2), here’s what I made:

  • 8 Bay Scallops, clean** and season with salt and pepper on both sides
  • 1/3 pack spaghetti
  • 3 TBSP Olive Oil
  • 2 TBSP Garlic, minced
  • 1 Shallot, sliced
  • 3 Baby Portabella Mushrooms, sliced (or any kind you want to use)
  • 1/4 cup Chicken Stock
  • 3 huge handfuls of Baby Spinach
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Italian Seasoning
  1. Salt a pot of boiling water. Watch out, it will fizz a bit when the salt hits the water. Add the pasta and cook according to the directions on the box.
  2. In a pan on the side, heat 2 TBSP of olive oil on med-low. Add shallots and garlic and cook for about 2 minutes, then add mushrooms. Stir occasionally.
  3. In another pan, heat remaining olive oil on med heat and add seasoned scallops. You will know when they are finished on one side because it will release from the bottom and not stick. Flip them when they are browned on the bottom and brown on the other side. 3-5 minutes on each side will cook them through. When finished, place on paper towel to soak up any excess oil and place on pasta.
  4. Add chicken stock to mushroom mixture once mushrooms and shallots have softened. As soon as it heats through, about a minute, add spinach. It will wilt quickly, so keep an eye on it and use tongs or a fork to rotate the spinach from top to bottom. Once it is all wilted, and mixed with the mushrooms and shallot, turn to low and add the finished pasta. Toss and plate. *Optional: Garnish with green onions or chopped green herbs, basil, thyme, or oregano.
  5. ENJOY!

**To clean scallops, make sure the side connector is removed and they are lightly rinsed. Do not keep submerged in water or they will soak up the water and not brown properly.

It may seem like there’s a lot going on all at once, but you can easily cook the spinach mixture completely before you cook the scallops. Heat your oven to low, Once it’s heated, turn it off and place your serving plate or bowl inside. When the pasta and spinach are finished and you’ve tossed the pasta in the spinach mixture, place it in the serving dish(es) and put back in the oven. Cook the scallops and you can top the warm pasta. This also works for keeping your serving dish or dishes warm and the food won’t cool off as quickly while you’re plating food and waiting to eat.

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Grilled Chicken Caprese Rotini

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Welcome Back to Audrey’s Kitchen. It seems like forever, but I’m slowly working my way back. Being a new mom with a three month old one of my dinner requirements has become something quick. Unfortunately, that tends to mean not very healthy. Well, that’s out the door because my husband is doing the Insanity workout and I’m breast feeding, so whatever I eat, my baby eats. Now, I’ll admit, I’ve been addicted to kettle corn lately, and ice cream, so when it comes to meals I try to do better.

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For dinner tonight I made something tasty, simple, quick, amendable and healthy. It begins with pre-cooked grilled chicken and ends with fresh store bought herbs. Here’s how I made my Grilled Chicken Caprese Rotini.

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Ingredients:
Cooked Whole Grain Rotini Pasta
3 oz Mozerella, med. dice
2 Small Tomatoes, med. dice
2 Grilled Chicken Breasts, sliced
1/8 C Basil & Oregano, chopped

Directions: Mix it all together! Told ya it was simple.

This recipe will feed 2 people for dinner or easily 3 with one more piece of chicken. I used pre-cooked frozen grilled chicken from a bag that was store bought. You can easily grill your own or bake it. We kept this low calorie by not adding any sauce, but be sure to season your pasta water with salt. You can also add salt and pepper, tomato sauce or pesto. You can definitely use dried herbs in place of fresh, just remember to use much less, maybe 1/2-1 TBSP of each.

This makes a great, fast dinner dish with the chicken taking the longest to cook at under 20 minutes. Of course, that’s if you use the ready made chicken, but even raw it’s no more than 35 minutes. This also makes a great party dish. Remove the chicken and add Italian or balsamic dressing.

I can definitely see keeping a cold version of this in the fridge on hand for those quick lunch times or snacks when the baby is napping and I need to refuel. I hope you find a use for it as well. Be on the lookout for more great recipes and ENJOY!

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Long Overdue Absence Explained!!

Hello, Everyone,

I know it’s been months since I had a new post. I first want to apologize for not giving you all a heads up. I assure you, there’s a darn good reason for my absence. So, here’s the story:

I’m pregnant. Now, up through the 4th month, it wasn’t an issue, even with the minor bouts of morning sickness, severe aversion to chicken and extreme acute sense of smell. However, at week 17, my doctor notices that I was funneling. Without going into too much detail, I was given a cerclage to keep from miscarrying. The same thing happened to during our last pregnancy, but it was too late and we miscarried our first son at 17 weeks as well.

It took about 3 weeks to completely heal from the surgery, and, after, I was put in bed rest. No standing for longer than 5 minutes. I can only describe the last 17 weeks as excruciatingly heartbreaking. My husband is a full time, active duty soldier. A very good cook in his own rite, he just didn’t have the time, nor did his 12-16 hour a day schedule allow him to prepare home cooked meals. Needless to say, We’ve been living off fast food, take out restaurants, frozen foods, the hubby’s yummy culinary delights (when possible), and the kindness of a great friend of mine who is also a wonderful cook. (For the record, my hubby did make Thanksgiving dinner complete with a brined turkey, mixed greens, homemade gravy and other super tasty sides.)

All that being said, I would like to thank everyone who has continued to support me and visit the site. Even without updates, I’m over 3000 visits!! And here I thought I’d been forgotten.

Within the next month, and hopefully within the next couple weeks, I will be giving birth to a healthy baby boy. My husband and I could not be more excited or more thankful. I assure you all that I will be back in no time, with some super simple, super delicious meals and dishes for your table. In the meantime, if there are any tips, shortcuts, or advice you’d like, or recipes you’d like to see, feel free to leave me a comment or e-mail me at: audreycooksstuff@yahoo.com

I look forward to hearing from you and getting back into the kitchen once this little guy is born. Until then, HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!!

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Mom’s Broccoli Salad

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Growing up,we pretty much had the same meals every week. Both of my parents worked full days, and most of the time I can remember my cousins staying with us, giving our parents that many more mouths to feed. While my mom was no super chef, but what she did make every week, she made extremely well. One of those dishes, which I constantly make today, is always a hit anywhere I go. That dish is my mother’s Broccoli Salad.

This salad has such simple ingredients, and, as much as I try to add or subtract from the list, it is always the best just the way she makes it, with one exception, the dressing. My mother uses a simple bottled Cole Slaw Dressing, where I’ve spiced things up a tad bit by using a mixture of Cole Slaw and Honey Mustard Dressings. I think it adds just a bit of a kick and takes it up to that next level.

This salad is good for pretty much anything. It’s makes a great vegetarian option for lunch, goes great with burgers and chicken, and is especially complimentary to BBQ. I also wouldn’t count it out with a nice hearty piece of breaded talapia or some fish sticks for the kids. Without further adieu, here’s my spin on my Mommy’s Broccoli Salad.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 4 C Broccoli, chopped into florets
  • 3/4 C (about 1/2) Red Onion, small dice
  • 3/4 C Cheddar Cheese, shredded or small dice (Pepper Jack makes a lovely substitute as well)
  • 1/2 C Bacon, crumbled or chopped (About 4 slices) **Leave out for vegetarian option**
  • 3/4 C (about 2 stalks) Celery, halved and diced
  • 1/2 C Cole Slaw Dressing
  • 1 TBSP Lt. Honey Mustard Dijon Dressing (or make your own, combining, 2 to 1, Dijon Mustard to Honey)

1. Begin by slicing strips of bacon into “lardons”, or small strips. Cook them in a pan until brown and crispy. You can also cook full strips and chop them after. Either way is fine.

2. Chop your broccoli into florets. The stalk is completely edible and tastes pretty good. You want to chop your large head into smaller heads. Slice the stalk until you reach the head, Then, begin slicing it into small florets.

3. Chop your red onion in half and remove the paper on the outside. **Here’s a tip: to help you hold the onion as you chop it, pull the paper, or inedible outer skin, of the onion to the end, but not off. As you get to the end of the onion, this will give you more to hold onto. Slice the onion horizontally about 3 times, then vertically. Now, chop into a small dice.

4. Chop your cheese any way you like. I found this handy dandy cheese slicer on sale while I was in Germany, but they are definitely sold all over the world. It utilizes a handle with a small wire that slices through any cheese like butter. If you cut a lot of cheese, and I LOVE cheese, this is an awesome little gadget to have, and you can find them on sale all the time. This one is marble, and keeps the cheese nice and cold, but they come in other materials, like wood and plastic, as well.

5. Slice celery stalks in half. Feel free to use the leaves as well, and dice.

6. Dump everything into a bowl and toss it lightly. Mix the dressings and pour over the salad. Toss until everything is coated. All Done!

You can make this salad the night before or earlier in the day. If you plan on making this early, my suggestion is to wait until at least 2 hours before serving to add the cheese. I find the cheese tends to get mushy if left in the dressing all day or overnight. I don’t like that much dressing on mine, so I usually don’t have to worry too much about it going mushy if I make it the night before, or eat it a day or 2 later. Make this salad! You will not be sorry. ENJOY!

Crispy Chicken Wrap

How many times have you wanted a quick, but satisfying lunch without sitting in a line full of cars or using the same lunch meat as always? I work at home, and I find it so easy to either forget to eat, or to get very frustrated by eating the same old thing. Recently, I had a chicken wrap from a fast food restaurant. It was so good. I thought to myself, “I can do this at home.” So I did!

Ingredients per wrap:

  • 1 piece of cooked chicken, crispy or grilled and cut into strips
  • 1/2 Tomato, thinly sliced
  • Red Onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 slices of Baby Swiss Cheese
  • Handful of Arugula, or Baby Spinach (really any green leaf will work here)
  • Honey Mustard Dressing (1 TBSP Mustard, 1 tsp Honey, Salt & Pepper)
  • 1 Flour Tortilla
  1. Drizzle dressing on tortilla.
  2. Layer with your ingredients, leaving about 2 inches at the bottom for folding.
  3. Fold tortilla by bringing the bottom 2 inches toward the top. Fold the left over the middle, repeat with the right.
  4. EAT and Enjoy! How hard was that? Not at all.

I know this is so simple, but when I want something fresh and easy, but certainly different than my usual lunch meat sandwich, this is where I turn. It’s packed with fresh veg and protein. I always keep precooked chicken strips on hand, so all I have to do is pop them in the oven or microwave for a few. I slice and prep everything else, and by the time I’m finished with that, the chicken is ready, and I’m eating. It’s quick enough that I can stop working and pick right back up where I left off, and easy enough that I don’t have to worry about tons of steps. Hope you enjoy this quick lunch!

 

 

 

 

 

Ultimate Fries

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Every once in a while you want something simple, fast, and categorized as utter food porn. A few months ago, my husband and I took a trip to Knotts Berry Farm. Tiny park, but some I the most awesome roller coasters I’ve ever ridden. For lunch, we stopped in Fiesta Village at this place called Papa Loca. They sell nothing but fries. FRIES, FRIES, FRIES! This place has combinations that would blow your mind. My husband is a fry fan like no one I’ve ever met. So, after walking the park numerous times, I finally agreed to eat here. His eyes lit up like a kid at a carnival, and he started going back and forth about which one to get. Finally, he reasoned that I should get one and he would get this one, because clearly they were the two best.

Neither of us have been able to get those fries out of our minds. Well, my husband has been working extra hard at work this week, so I decided to surprise him for dinner.

These fries are open to so many possibilities. It starts by using any fries you like and adding any topping you want, but, since one of our favorites that day were the chili cheese fries with steak, that’s what I went for. My other goal with these fries was to make them easy. I’ve been battling a cold since last weekend, and, though the fever broke, I’m still pretty tired, and most of my energy has been spent catching up on housework and our very energetic dogs. However you make your fries, make it simple. Here’s how I did it.

Ingredients:

1 LB Chuck Steak, or ground beef
Marinade: 2 TBSP Steak Seasoning, 1/4 C Worcestershire Sauce, 1 TBSP Liquid Smoke, 2 Bay Leaves, 1/2 TBSP Garlic Powder, 1/2 Yellow Onion (thinly sliced).
1 Can Diced Tomatoes
1 Can Black Beans
1 pk Chili Seasoning
1 Can Nacho Cheese
1-2 C Arugula
1 Tomato, med dice
2 TBSP Onion, small dice
1 Green Onion, sliced
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 LB French Fries, cooked and seasoned

1. Make the marinade in a sealable plastic bag and add the steak. Seal the bag and rub the marinade into the steak. Pop it in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight. Pull it out and allow it to come to room temp before cooking, about 20-30 minutes. (This will allow the meat to relax, and it will be much more tender when you cook it.)
2. Heat a pan on med heat and add a few TBSP of oil. Once the pan is hot, remove the steak from the bag and lay it in the pan. Cook it to your desired temp. Try to get a nice browning on both sides. Don’t worry if the onions get in the way. You can discard them once you’ve cooked the meat. When finished, remove the steak to a cutting board and allow it to rest while you prepare everything else. Slice it into thin strips to layer it.

Fits perfectly in my dutch oven, and the high sides keep oil from splattering everywhere.

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Thinly sliced so it’s easy to eat with everything else. Medium or well, however you or your guests like it.

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3. Begin working on your other toppings. In a pot, empty your cans of beans and tomatoes, with the liquid. Bring to a boil, then, add the chili seasoning and reduce to a simmer. Cook at least 10 minutes, but don’t worry if it goes longer. It’ll be fine, just turn it to low when you’re finished and stir occasionally.

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4. Meanwhile, you can empty your can of cheese into a small pot or microwaveable bowl and heat it any way you want. If you’re heating it on the stove top, keep the heat on low and stir it often. If microwaving, keep the timer to 30 seconds to begin with, stirring completely after every rotation. Lower the timer as it begins to heat through, like melting chocolate.
5. Prep your ingredients in an assembly line and let everyone make their own or stack it the way you think best. I stacked mine by starting with the fries first, then the arugula, chili, steak, yellow onions, cheese, tomatoes and green onions.

I know the arugula sounds weird, but it definitely adds a great texture in the layers and a pepperiness. The fresh onions and tomatoes just add a lightness and brightness to the dish and it doesn’t seem as heavy with the chili and processed cheese. I added a bit of cracked black pepper to the fries along with some kosher salt as they came out of the oven, but you can also add seasoning salt or Cajun seasoning, or a little chili pepper, or whatever else you like.

The best thing about these fries is that they’re totally customizable. You can make your special chili or homemade cheese sauce, you can use avocado and steak to lighten it instead of chili and cheese. You can use hamburger instead of steak. You can make it meatless for that vegetarian option. Add bacon, chicken, or shrimp or use my homemade tortilla chip recipe.

This is perfect for game day get togethers or tailgating parties. It’s even something different for potlucks, and has everything kids and men love! However, you make these… MAKE THESE, and Enjoy!

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