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Dine In: Beef Enchilada Dip


Beef Enchilada DipOne of my favorite restaurants has a new, seasonal dish on their menu that I’ve been ordering every time we go eat there: Cowboy Nachos.

The dish consists of a mound of crispy tortilla chips topped with a beefy, black bean chili and tons of melted cheese, garnished with sour cream and guacamole. It’s heaven on a plate and satisfies all the senses for me: crunchy, creamy, cheesy. What more do you need?

This dip is a great alternative to my favorite nachos to make at home. Not everyone in the family likes all the same things, so heaping everything on a plate of nachos wouldn’t work out for us.

If you make this dip, it allows each family member to control their amounts and add the garnishes they like.

It’s a fun way to wind down with the family on a Friday night.

Beef Enchilada Dip

Ingredients:
1 lb ground beef
1/2 large white onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (10 oz) cans red enchilada sauce
2 cups cheddar cheese, grated
cilantro, sour cream or olives, for garnish
tortilla chips

Directions:
Brown the ground beef and onion together in a large, cast-iron or other ovenproof skillet. Add garlic; cook for about 1 more minute. Drain grease.

Stir enchilada sauce into the meat, and mix until well-combined. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the cheese over the meat mixture. Reduce heat to low, and let cheese melt. If you want the cheese more browned and bubbly, place under broiler until the cheese is the desired consistency.

Garnish with sour cream, cilantro and olives, if desired. Scoop with tortilla or corn chips.

Serves 6

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 485, Fat: 31 g (17 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 147 mg, Sodium: 1142 mg, Carbohydrates: 8g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 2 g, Protein: 42 g.

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Shop the Sale: Classic Pan-Seared Ribeye Steak


Classic Pan-Seared Ribeye SteakPrep Time: 90 mins
Cook Time: 15 mins
Serves: 2

When it comes to beef, the ribeye is hard to beat. High marbling makes for a tender, juicy steak that’s perfect on its own or served with a traditional sauce. (Check out our homemade steak sauce recipe). Pair this tender cut with a rich, bold red like Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel or Malbec or an ale, stout or porter for the beer lover.

Ingredients
2 (8 oz) Boneless Ribeye Steaks, each about 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick
Kosher Salt
Brookshire’s Olive Oil
Brookshire’s Ground Black Pepper

Instructions
Bring steaks to room temperature. Season generously with kosher salt; let sit for 1 hour. When ready to cook, heat oven to highest setting. Place large cast-iron skillet on stovetop; heat on highest setting. Turn on hood fan as the cooking process will cause smoke. Brush steaks lightly with oil; sprinkle both sides with pepper.

Immediately place steaks in the middle of the hot, dry skillet and cook for 30 seconds without moving. Turn with tongs; cook 30 more seconds. Put pan straight into the oven for 2 minutes. Flip steak; cook for 2 more minutes. (This timing is for medium-rare steak. If you prefer medium, add 1 minute to both oven turns. You can also use a digital thermometer to check for doneness. Perfect medium-rare is 128 to 130° F.)

Remove steak from skillet. Cover loosely with foil; let rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve whole, or thinly sliced and fanned on plate.

Calories Per Serving: 380, Fat: 33 g (14 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 80 mg, Sodium: 60 mg, Carbohydrates: 0 g, Fiber: 0 g, Protein: 15 g.

*Gluten-free

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Chef Tips

How to Choose the Best Ribeye Steak
The main characteristic to look for when selecting a ribeye is ample marbling, with a modest amount of edge fat and preferably no gristle. Prime grade steaks offer the highest marbling of all the beef grades, which is responsible for the tender meat and juicy flavor these steaks are known for. Ribeye steaks are best when cut between 1 ½ – 2 inches thick.

Great Steak Side Dishes
It’s pretty hard to go wrong with sides when they’re paired with the king of steaks. For a meal on the lighter side, try tasty seasonal salads like Arugula, Pear & Blue Cheese Salad or fresh Tomato Salad with Red Onion, Basil and Balsamic Vinegar, or opt for grilled or roasted vegetables like Cilantro-Lime Butter Corn or Garlic-Roasted Broccoli. For a more traditional approach, choose potatoes and serve them mashed, baked or au gratin alongside Buttery Green Beans or Honey-Glazed Carrots.



Shop the Sale: BLT French Toast


BLT French ToastPrep Time: 45 mins
Cook Time: 1 hour
Serves: 3

The humble BLT gets a makeover with traditional challah bread cooked to French Toast-style perfection topped with crispy bacon, ripe tomatoes and spring mix greens. Chef note: be sure to choose quality bacon that’s thick-cut and naturally smoked like Wright Brand bacon. Perfect for a decadent brunch, your guests will melt with every bite of this gourmet BLT sensation!

Ingredients
12 thick slices smoked bacon
2 cups heavy cream
5 large eggs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 slices challah bread, at least 1-inch thick
2 Tbsp canola oil
2 1/2 cups Gruyere cheese, grated (or any melty cheese will work)
12 slices ripe tomatoes
Vinaigrette of your choice
6 cups spring mix, cleaned

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350° F. Place bacon on rimmed baking sheet; bake until crisp about 20 to 25 minutes. While bacon cooks, combine heavy cream and eggs in bowl, whisking to blend well. Season mixture with salt and pepper to taste. Soak bread in mixture for 15 minutes. Turn bread over; soak for 10 to 15 more minutes.

Place large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add canola oil. Once oil is hot (it will shimmer slightly), fry challah slices on each side until golden-brown, working in batches. Transfer challah to baking sheet, and place in oven. Bake until cooked through, about 6 to 8 minutes. The bread should soufflé (puff up).

Remove from oven. Cover each slice with cheese and return pan to oven. Once cheese has melted (about 4 minutes) remove from oven. Put 2 bacon slices and 2 tomato slices on each bread slice. Drizzle with vinaigrette. Toss spring mix with remaining dressing (or enough to coat) and place atop each piece. Serve warm.

Calories per Serving: 1055, Fat: 87 g (42 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 547 mg, Sodium: 1187 mg, Carbohydrates: 16 g, Fiber: 2 g, Protein: 51 g.

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Chef Tips

What Is Challah Bread?
Challah is a traditional braided Jewish bread served on Shabbat and holidays. It’s a simple bread made from flour, eggs, oil, water and yeast with a touch of salt and sugar, but the real joy in making it yourself comes from braiding the dough, which is done by making three or six dough ropes and braiding them together like yarn.

Choose the Right Cheese
We’ve never met a cheese that hasn’t made us melt, but some cheeses are better than others for melting. While Gruyere is out top pick for this dish, there are a handful of other cheeses that make for great melted toasties. Some fantastic mild options include Gouda, Fontina and Mozzarella, while for something more intense, Asiago, Aged Cheddar or Brie are excellent choices.



Dine In: Loaded Baked Potato and Chicken Casserole


Loaded Baked Potato and Chicken CasseroleWe’re right on the cusp of warm, spring and summer weather. With hot days and cooler nights, it’s almost time to shed the heavy comfort foods of winter, and enjoy spring and summer’s bountiful vegetables and lighter meats.

Almost.

Sometimes, it’s just satisfying to work a full week of challenges, take care of your family, take care of yourself and come home to a comfort meal on Fridays.

This dish is warm, creamy, cheesy and filling, all the requirements (at least for me) for comfort food. While the serving size of this recipe is for two, you can easily double or triple (if you have teenagers in the house, I definitely recommend tripling this recipe).

Loaded Baked Potato and Chicken Casserole

Ingredients:
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup heavy whipping cream
2 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and diced
8 oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts, diced
2 slices Canadian bacon, diced
4 Tbs unsalted butter, cubed
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 stalk scallion (green part only), cut into small rounds

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350° F. Coat a 9 x 9 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Whisk salt, sugar and black pepper into whipping cream, stirring to combine.

Layer the potatoes and chicken in the baking dish. Sprinkle with bacon and butter pieces. Top with half of the sharp cheddar cheese and scallions.

Pour whipping cream mixture over the casserole.

Cover and bake for 1 hour. Uncover and bake for 30 more minutes.

During the last 10 minutes, sprinkle with remaining cheese, and bake until bubbly.

Serve immediately.

(This recipe can easily be doubled.)

Serves 2

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 898, Fat: 58 g (33 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 256 mg, Sodium: 1324 mg, Carbohydrates: 37 g, Fiber: 6 g, Sugar: 4 g, Protein: 57 g.

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Dine In: Corned Beef


Corned BeefWe didn’t eat much corned beef growing up.

I am Italian, after all.

As an adult, it seems like a lot of the people I really enjoy in life have Irish heritage, so I’ve been forced to learn a little bit about Irish cuisine. Happily forced, that is.

Now, it turns out that corned beef is not a traditional Irish dish, but it was introduced into the cuisine by a melding of Irish and American culture, where the cured beef was substituted for bacon by Irish-American immigrants in the late 19th century.

It then became a quasi-traditional dish to eat on St. Patrick’s Day (today, that is). Corned beef is usually eaten with potatoes and cabbage.

Corned beef is basically pickled brisket. Not THOSE kind of pickles, but cured brisket, simply stated.

You can purchase it pre-cured and reheat for tonight’s homage to all things Irish, or you can make it yourself!

Corned Beef

Ingredients:
1 (4 to 5 lb) beef brisket
2 quarts water
1 cup sea salt
1/2 cup raw cane sugar or organic brown sugar
1 stick cinnamon or about 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
1 Tbs mustard seeds
1 to 2 Tbs black peppercorns
1/2 tsp whole cloves
1 tsp allspice berries (optional)
1 Tbs coriander seeds
1 tsp juniper berries (optional)
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1/2 tsp dried thyme leaf
5 cloves garlic, crushed
2 to 3 bay leaves, crushed

Directions:
In a large, heavy stockpot, combine water, salt, sugar and spices; stir until dissolved.

Heat to a simmer; remove from heat and let cool by using two cups of ice if needed.

Refrigerate until very cold. Brine must be chilled through before it is used for the meat.

Trim the brisket, and place inside a 2-gallon, zip-top bag. Add brine. Make sure brisket is covered completely and totally surrounded by liquid. Place bag inside a smaller bowl if needed to help conform to a shape that keeps the meat fully submerged in liquid.

Place bag in the refrigerator, and let sit for 3 to 5 days. Every day, flip bag and move brine around.

After the brisket has finished brining, remove from bag; rinse well in warm water.

Place in a slow cooker, and cook on low for 8 to 12 hours.

Slice and serve with cabbage and potatoes.

Serves 8

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 576, Calories from Fat: 164, Fat: 18 g (7 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 253 mg, Sodium: 11774 mg, Carbohydrates: 11 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 7 g, Protein: 87 g.

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Dine In: Million-Dollar Spaghetti


Million-Dollar SpaghettiFor many years, I worked in the church nursery taking care of babies and toddlers while their parents attended church services, Sunday school or other activities for which the church provided child care.

I loved it so much. Sunday mornings gave me the chance to snuggle MY babies (they were only mine for about 3 hours, but that was fine) or play with the little ones, my toddler included. Wednesday nights were a little wilder, as we provided child care for mid-week services and classes. Our nursery kids were usually wound up from a day at school or other childcare and came to the church nursery quite spirited.

On Wednesday nights, there was always also dinner. The kitchen was right near the nursery, and although the church encouraged families to eat together before dropping their kids off at the nursery, there were always a few kids who were finishing their meals or eating in the nursery with us.

Their favorite Wednesday night dish was Million-Dollar Spaghetti. We DREADED spaghetti night because it’s messy, but the kids loved it. We soon learned to suit them up in oversized bibs the minute they came through the door, and we kept plenty of wipes on hand at all times.

Messy as it might have been, pretty much every kid devoured their dinner when Million-Dollar Spaghetti was on the menu!

This is a hearty and satisfying dish to cap off a busy week that your whole family is sure to love.

Million-Dollar Spaghetti

Ingredients:
1 (16 oz) pkg spaghetti noodles
1 lb ground beef
1 large onion, diced
1 (16 oz) jar spaghetti sauce
1/2 cup butter, sliced (divided)
1 cup ricotta cheese or cottage cheese, drained
1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup sour cream
1 (8 oz) pkg shredded cheddar cheese

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350° F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add spaghetti and a pinch of salt. Cook until noodles are al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Brown ground beef and onions until cooked through and crumbled. Drain. Mix the spaghetti sauce into the ground beef.
In another bowl, mix together the cream cheese, sour cream and ricotta cheese/cottage cheese until well=blended. Place half the slices of butter into the bottom of a 9 x 13 casserole dish.

Layer half the spaghetti on top of the butter. Top with creamy mixture, and then layer with remaining noodles. Top with remaining pats of butter. Pour the meat sauce over the entire dish; spread to cover. Bake for 30 minutes. Spread the cheese over the casserole, and continue baking until the cheese is melted and bubbly, about 15 more minutes.

Serves 12

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 539, Calories from Fat: 241, Fat: 27 g (16 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 131 mg, Sodium: 3497 mg, Carbohydrates: 48 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 1 g, Protein: 27 g.

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Shop the Sale: Skillet-Seared Pork Loin Chops


Skillet-Seared Pork Loin ChopsWe’ve been eating decadently for days on end.

Pizza on Friday night. Appetizers and snacks for dinner Saturday. A big pancake breakfast on Sunday and a Sunday supper fit for a king. Not to mention Valentine’s Day, which was a sumptuous dinner and an even more indulgent dessert.

So tonight, I wanted something simple and straightforward!

Brookshire’s to the rescue with their boneless pork chops.

These thick cuts of tender white meat pork are beautiful seared in the cast-iron skillet on the stovetop. The meat is lean, but you can impart a great flavor just by the way you season it and cook it. Serve with a side of roasted Brussels sprouts and a salad for a simple and satisfying meal.

Skillet-Seared Pork Loin Chops

Ingredients:
4 boneless pork loin chops, about 1 1/2 lbs
2 Tbs olive oil
2 tsp salt
2 tsp black pepper
1 Tbs Worcestershire powder

Directions:
Bring pork chops to room temperature, about 1 hour.

Season both sides with salt, pepper and Worcestershire powder. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Drop pork chops into pan, searing on first side, about 3 minutes. Flip and sear other side, about 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium. Cook through until meat reaches desired doneness, at least 145° F. Remove from pan; let rest 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 474, Calories from Fat: 276, Fat: 31 g (10 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 136 mg, Sodium: 1269 mg, Carbohydrates: 1 g, Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 1 g, Protein: 47 g.

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Healthy Living: One-Pan Roasted Sausage and Vegetables


One-Pan Roasted Sausage and VegetablesI was telling my best friend recently that I prefer vegetables to most fruits, and she thought I was crazy.

That’s fine; I’ll take a little crazy.

It’s true, though. I do prefer vegetables to fruits (although I definitely eat fruit, too), and I love roasting veggies for an easy, one-pan, healthy meal.

You can add almost any kind of vegetables to this dish. I often use Brussels sprouts instead of peppers or throw in some cauliflower as well. Make sure to dice the sweet potatoes in small pieces, so they cook as quickly as the rest of the veggies. You could also steam them for a few minutes before you add them to the roasting pan. You could also toss in a few pieces of diced apple for some sweetness.

Chicken sausage doesn’t have much fat, so you do need the olive oil. Although, I don’t usually use all of the six tablespoons.

I love making this one night for dinner then enjoying the leftovers the next day for lunch.

One-Pan Roasted Sausage and Vegetables

Ingredients:
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
3/4 lb fresh green beans
1 large head broccoli, chopped
2 large green bell peppers, chopped
9 oz chicken sausage links
6 Tbs olive oil
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1 Tbs dried oregano
1 Tbs dried parsley
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400° F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or foil (if using foil, spray with nonstick cooking spray).

Chop all veggies, and add to a large bowl. Slice sausage into bite-sized pieces; add to bowl. Add in spices, and drizzle in olive oil. Toss to coat.

Spread mixture on prepared baking sheet. Roast for 15 minutes, and then stir before roasting for 15 more minutes.

Serves 2

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 686, Calories from Fat: 411, Fat: 46 g (7 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 15 mg, Sodium: 453 mg, Carbohydrates: 67 g, Fiber: 17 g, Sugar: 8 g, Protein: 12 g.

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Dine In: Sirloin Steak Bites


Sirloin Steak BitesI know that I complain sometimes about the picky eaters in my house. My younger son and my boyfriend, who eats dinner with us every night, are a bit more challenging to cook for than my older son, and goodness knows I’ll eat anything.

Then, I remember that my younger son is the same kid who rushes out to help me unload groceries every week when I’m slogging bags in from the car. He opens doors for me to walk through and refills my coffee cup when it gets low. He checks to see if I want the last cookie before he tears into it, and he is always quick to tell me that he loves me.

The boyfriend, while he might not eat any sauce that is white or any beans that are not, is the one who missed his all-time favorite musician when he came to town to instead go out for a birthday dinner with us. He’s the one who remembered that I mentioned I wanted to read a new magazine that has just come out. No one can put their hands on it because it’s so popular, so he ordered me a subscription instead. He’s the one who gives my dog a bath and fills up the dog food bin without me asking.

Among many, many other things.

So really, the fact that sometimes I have to serve sauce on the side or not at all, or skip eating comfort food casseroles, or have to swap kidney beans for Great Northern really isn’t a big deal. These guys of mine deserve the foods they love (like the sirloin steak bites) because they’re so good at loving me.

Sirloin Steak Bites

Ingredients:
2 lbs sirloin steak, trimmed and cubed
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup tarragon vinegar or soy sauce
2 Tbs garlic, minced
2 Tbs parsley, dried
2 Tbs basil, dried
lemon zest, grated
olive oil, for cooking

Directions:
Combine all ingredients except sirloin in a large, zip-top bag; mix well. Add sirloin bites and marinate, refrigerated, for several hours or overnight.

Heat olive oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering and fragrant. Using a slotted spoon, remove steak bites from marinade in batches. Cook for about 3 minutes per batch for medium-rare. Remove steak from pan and set aside, keeping warm. Repeat with remaining steak until it’s all cooked. Don’t overcrowd the pan as that will steam the meat, not sear it. Discard marinade.

Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 663, Calories from Fat: 354, Fat: 39 g (9 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 203 mg, Sodium: 317 mg, Carbohydrates: 5 g, Fiber: 0 g, Sugar: 3 g, Protein: 69 g.

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Shop the Sale: Big Game Ribeyes with Bleu Cheese and Crispy Shallots


Big Game Ribeyes with Bleu Cheese and Crispy ShallotsThe Big Game is this weekend, and it’s the perfect time to wow your family and friends with some outstanding steaks.

Prepare these before kickoff, so you have a long time to savor your steak and so you don’t miss a minute of Lady Gaga at halftime.

Ribeyes are full of flavor from the beautiful marbling in each piece of meat. You can balance that full flavor with the sharp taste of bleu cheese and the crisp crunch of a fried shallot. The combinations of flavors is worthy of a championship ring, for sure.

Big Game Ribeyes with Bleu Cheese and Crispy Shallots

Ingredients:
2 shallots, sliced into rings
3/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper
vegetable oil, for frying
sea salt
2 cups bleu cheese, crumbled
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tsp black pepper
2 Tbs Worcestershire powder
4 ribeye steaks, about 20 oz each

Directions:
For the bleu cheese sauce, whisk together bleu cheese and cream. Season with pepper. Refrigerate until needed (can be done a day ahead of time).

For the crispy shallots, pour milk into a large, shallow bowl. Add shallot slices; soak for about 30 minutes.

In another small dish, stir together flour, cornstarch, red pepper and black pepper. Dredge each shallot ring in flour mixture, coating evenly. Lay out individually on a sheet of waxed paper.

In a large cast-iron skillet, heat vegetable oil to 350° F. Working in small batches, fry battered shallots until crisp and golden. Drain on paper towels. Season with sea salt, and set aside.

For the steaks, heat grill to medium-high heat. Bring the steaks to room temperature. Season both sides of each steak with salt, pepper and Worcestershire powder.

Grill steaks for 6 minutes on the first side. Then, flip and grill for 6 more minutes on the other side. Remove from grill. Let rest for 8 to 10 minutes before serving. Top with bleu cheese sauce and crispy shallots.

Serves 4

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 993, Calories from Fat: 527, Fat: 59 g (30 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 308 mg, Sodium: 1106 mg, Carbohydrates: 30 g, Fiber: 1 g, Sugar: 3 g, Protein: 84 g.

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