Corned Beef Casserole

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corned beef casserole

Estimated Cost:  $8.00

Prep Time:  10 minutes

Baking Time:  1 hour

Serves:  4

A casserole I remember fondly from my childhood.  Easy to make and guaranteed to make your family smile when you serve it!

6 oz. egg noodles, cooked
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup milk
1 can corned beef, broken up
1 cup shredded cheese
breadcrumbs or crushed potato chips
1 Tbs. finely chopped green pepper (optional)

1.  Preheat oven to 350°.

2. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl. Place mixed ingredients into a greased 2-quart casserole dish. Top with breadcrumbs or crushed potato chips.

3. Bake for one hour.

Mike’s Comments: I’ve made this with just about every type of shredded cheese and it is always delicious. For an extra special casserole I break 4 pieces of bread in to small pieces and pan fry them in butter for the topping.

Grilled Country-Style Pork Ribs with Red Wine Vinegar Sauce

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Grilled Country-Style Pork Ribs with Red Wine Vinegar SauceEstimated Cost:  $14.00

Prep Time:  20 minutes

Grilling Time:  1 hour 15 minutes

Serves:  4

Are they saucy or sassy?  Pull up a plate of these meaty, basted ribs and you decide!

Meaty, tasty and juicy country-style pork ribs are one of my favorite grilled cuisines.  Indirect cooking over medium heat ensures the ribs cook evenly, retain moisture, and taste exquisite.

For the Sauce:
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup ketchup
3 Tbs. soy sauce
2 Tbs. honey
1 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1/2 tsp. Tabasco sauce
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp. chili powder

8 country-style pork ribs, about 4 lbs., trimmed of excess fat
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper

Apple or Hickory chunks or chips soaked in water for at least 30 minutes

To make the sauce:

1. In a medium saucepan combine the sauce ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Remove from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Pour some of the sauce into a small container to use for basting the ribs.

To grill the ribs:

1. Allow the ribs to stand at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before grilling. Season with salt and pepper.

2. While the ribs are standing, prepare the grill for indirect cooking over medium heat.

3. Add your smoking chunks or chips just before grilling.

4. Grill pork ribs over indirect medium heat until the meat is very tender, 1 to 1 1/4 hours, turning once halfway through grilling time. During the last 20 minutes of grilling time, baste with the container of sauce you put aside.

5. Serve ribs warm with remaining sauce on the side.

Mike’s Comments:

I’ve never met anyone who didn’t love these ribs. They are just THAT good!

Ranch Chicken


Ranch ChickenEstimated Cost: $8.00

Prep Time:  5 minutes

Cooking Time:  15 minutes

Serves:  4

One of my all time favorite “outta time what do I make for dinner?” recipes.  Pick an easy side or two and you’ll have a delicious meal plated and on the table in 30 minutes.

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1/2 cup ranch dressing
2/3 cup dry bread crumbs (any flavor)
2 Tbs. vegetable oil

1. Dip chicken into dressing, then coat with bread crumbs.

2. In 10-inch skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Cook chicken in oil 12 to 15 minutes, turning once, until outside is golden brown and juice is no longer pink when centers of thickest pieces are cut.

Mike’s comments:

I’ve found that combining 1/3 cup of dried bread crumbs with 1/3 cup of Panko bread crumbs makes for the most yummy of crunchy and tasty breadings.

Recipe source: Betty Crocker Recipes

Slow Cooker Salsa Chili

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Slow Cooker Salsa Chili

Estimated Cost: $10.00

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cooking Time: 8 hours

Serves: 6

Super easy, super affordable, and super tasty. Even if you have a favorite chili recipe, give Slow-Cooker Salsa Chili a try, you, and your family, will not be disappointed!

1 lb. ground chuck
1 med. onion, chopped
2 cups Thick ‘n Chunky salsa
1 can (15 oz) tomato sauce
1 can (4.5 oz) chopped green chiles
2 Tbs. chili powder
1 can (15 to 16 oz) pinto beans, drained, rinsed
shredded Cheddar cheese, for topping
sliced green onions, for topping
sour cream, for topping

1. Cook beef and onion over medium heat 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until beef is thoroughly cooked; drain.

2. In slow cooker, mix beef mixture and remaining ingredients except beans.

3. Cover; cook on Low heat setting 8 to 10 hours.

4. Stir in beans. Cover; cook on Low heat setting about 5 minutes longer or until beans are hot. Top with cheese, onions, sour cream with some tortilla chips on the side.

Mike’s comments:

My family enjoys this recipe served with cornbread.

Recipe source: Betty Crocker Recipes

Recipe: Easy Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

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Easy Honey Mustard Dipping SauceEstimated Cost:  $2.00

Prep Time:  5 minutes

Chill Time:  8 hours

Yields:  3/4 cup dipping sauce

Honey mustard is commonly used both on sandwiches, and as a dip for finger foods such as chicken strips. It can also be combined with vinegar and/or olive oil to make a salad dressing.  I love honey mustard and use it on all sorts of different foods.  This recipe is very basic and very delicious.  I’ve tried a number of honey mustard recipes and in this case basic proved best.

1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 Tbs. prepared yellow mustard
1 Tbs. Dijon mustard
2 Tbs. honey
1/2 Tbs. lemon juice

1. In a medium bowl mix the mayonnaise, yellow mustard, Dijon mustard, honey, and lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate for 8+ hours.

Mike’s comments:

My favorite dipping sauce for when I make Long John Silvers Chicken Planks at home.

Recipe: Long John Silvers Deep Fry Batter

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Long John Silvers Deep Fry BatterEstimated Cost: $3.00

Prep Time:  5 minutes

Cooking Time:  varies

Yields:  Enough batter to cover 8 chicken or fish fillets or approx. 20 shrimp

Long John Silvers Chicken Planks (with their honey mustard dipping sauce) are one of my most beloved, and equally guilty, fast food pleasures.  I enjoy all of their deep-fried delights, but the planks are my favorite.  Here is the secret recipe to their wonderful batter, which in my opinion is what makes their food so decadently delicious!

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
4 Tbs. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups ginger ale, heated (1 min. in microwave)

1. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the flour, cornstarch, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Add the heated ginger ale and mix together until well combined.

2. Completely cover the fish, chicken, or shrimp in batter and deep fry in medium-high heated canola oil until golden brown.

Mike’s comments:

I like substituting chicken breast tenders for the full sized breast fillets. Be sure to have some honey mustard dipping sauce on hand for those homemade chicken planks!

Recipe: Easy Poutine (French Fries with Gravy and Cheese Curds)

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Easy PoutineEstimated Cost:  $9.00

Prep Time:  15 minutes

Cooking Time:  25 minutes

Serves:  4

Poutine (pu-tin) is a common Canadian dish,  originally from Quebec, made with french fries, topped with brown gravy and cheese curds.  While the exact provenance of the word “poutine” is uncertain, some of its meanings undoubtedly result at least in part from the influence of the English word pudding.

For those unfamiliar with cheese curds, in cooking, they are simply the solid parts of soured milk either eaten alone or used in various regional dishes, mostly in Quebec (Canada) and the northeastern and mid-western United States. They are sometimes referred to as “squeaky cheese”.

What I can tell you is Poutine is one of the best cures for the munchies I’ve ever eaten.  I only wish the late night fast food joints in Ann Arbor (Michigan) served them.

1 bag (1 lb. 14 oz.) frozen potato wedges
4 Tbs. butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 shallot, minced (how to)
1 clove garlic, minced (how to)
1 pkg. (32 oz.) beef broth
2 Tbs. ketchup
1 Tbs. cider vinegar
1 Tbs. whole green peppercorns
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
Canola oil, for frying
2 cups cheddar cheese curds

1. Prepare the frozen potato wedges per packaging directions.

2. Meanwhile, heat butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add flour, and cook, stirring, until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add shallot and garlic, and cook, until soft, about 2 minutes. Add beef stock, ketchup, vinegar, peppercorns, Worcestershire, and salt and pepper, and bring to a boil; cook, stirring, until thickened, about 6 minutes. Remove from heat, and keep gravy warm.

3. Divide the fries among the serving bowls. Pour gravy over each serving of fries, and top with cheese curds; serve immediately.

Mike’s comments:

Don’t let the cheddar cheese curds steer you away from this delicious diner delight from the Great White North.

Recipe: Easy Pecan Pie Bars


Easy Pecan Pie BarsEstimated Cost:  $7.00

Prep Time:  10 minutes

Baking Time:  35 minutes

Cooling Time:  2 hours

Yields:  36 bars

If you love pecan pie (who doesn’t?) this recipe gives you all of its delicious flavor in a bar cookie that only requires minutes to prepare.  It’s impossible to bake these only once!


1 pkg. (1 lb. 1.5 oz.) sugar cookie mix
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 egg

Pecan Filling:

1 cup packed brown sugar
2 Tbs. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups pecans, chopped

1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease bottom of 13×9-inch baking pan.

2. In a large bowl, stir all Crust ingredients until dough forms. Press dough in bottom of pan using floured fingers. Bake 20 minutes at 350°F.

3. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, stir all Pecan Filling ingredients until well blended. Pour over hot crust.

4. Bake 15 minutes or until center is set. Cool completely, about 2 hours. For bars, cut into 9 rows by 4 rows. Store covered in refrigerator.

Mike’s comments:

These are so damn good they should be illegal, honestly.

A perfect dessert to follow some Let Freedom Ring Buttermilk Fried Chicken.

Recipe: Let Freedom Ring Buttermilk Fried Chicken

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Let Freedom Ring Buttermilk Fried ChickenEstimated Cost:  $10.00

Prep Time:  10 minutes

Frying Time:  15 minutes

Serves:  4

Southern buttermilk fried chicken is said to have been one of Dr. King‘s favorite meals. August 28th, 2013 seemed the perfect day to celebrate a speech that comes, if we are lucky, once in a lifetime, with a recipe I hope he would have enjoyed.

After much trial and effort, I’ve found fried chicken to be the alchemy of the culinary world. Successful fried chicken is made up of equal parts science, magic, and spirituality.  The magic happens when you combine your heart and a simple scientific concept.  Fried chicken needs to be cooked at a consistent temperature of 325 °F.  

The easiest way to maintain a consistent temperature when frying is to use an electric skillet. This recipe is based around using an electric skillet, but if you feel confident in maintaining the consistent temperature using other means, more power to you!

1 pkg. whole chicken cut up (2 legs, 2 thighs, 2 wings, 2 breasts each cut in half)
1 cup buttermilk (need a substitution?)
1 egg
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
canola or vegetable oil

1. Place enough oil in the electric skillet so that it’s about a half inch deep. Preheat the electric skillet to 325°F (about 5-8 minutes).

2. While the oil is heating, mix the buttermilk and egg in a small bowl; whisk until combined. In another small bowl, combine the flour, salt, and pepper.

3. When the oil is fully heated, dredge each piece of chicken in the flour, then in the buttermilk mixture, then in the flour again, and place in the oil.

4. Cook each piece about four minutes. Once it’s brown, flip it and cook for four more minutes. Remove to a plate with paper towels to drain. Fried chicken can be kept in a 200°F oven until you are ready to serve.

Dr. King’s comments:

I have a dream today.

Recipe: Mexican Burgers with Spicy Ranch Sauce

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Mexican Burgers with Spicy Ranch SauceEstimated Cost:  $10.00

Prep Time:  15 minutes

Grill Time:  12 minutes

Serves: 6

hamburguesa Wonderful!

1 pkg. taco seasoning, divided
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
1/4 cup ketchup
1 1/2 lbs. ground beef
6 slices Monterey Jack cheese
6 hamburger buns

1. Combine 1 teaspoon of the taco seasoning, mayonnaise and sour cream in small bowl; mix well. Cover. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

2. Mix ketchup and remaining Seasoning Mix in medium bowl until well blended. Add ground beef; mix gently. Shape into 6 patties; refrigerate until ready to grill.

3. Grill over medium heat 5 to 6 minutes per side or until burgers are cooked through. Add cheese to burgers 1 minute before cooking is completed.

4. Serve burgers on rolls with Spicy Ranch Sauce and desired toppings (see below).

Mike’s comments:

One of the most fun part of serving grilled burgers is providing your guests with delicious and appropriate toppings. A few toppings to consider when serving Mexican Burgers include: guacamole, salsa, sliced onion, sliced jalapeno, leaf lettuce, and avocado slices.

Original recipe source: Lawry’s Grill Labratory

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