Appetizers & Soups
This soup is a spicy combination of war wonton and hot and sour with its’ own unique identity. If you like Asian soups, you should love this.
Serves 4 hungry people.
12 ounces sirloin steak, sliced very thinly
4 ounces sliced mushrooms
1 bunch of scallions, chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 medium carrot sliced into 1 inch long, thin strips
2 cups baby spinach
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 tablespoon crushed ginger
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
3 cups beef broth/stock
3 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons dry sherry
3 ounces thin chow mien egg noodles
2 tablespoons olive oil
1. Place the olive oil in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat and add the beef strips, browning and barely cooking to rare. Remove beef.
2. To the pot, add garlic, ginger, half of the scallions and carrots and stir fry for 1 minute.
3. Add the beef, broth, soy sauce, sherry and cayenne and bring to a boil.
4. Lower the heat and simmer for 2 minutes then add mushrooms
5. Break up the noodles and add to the pan with the spinach. Simmer for 5 minutes.
6. Add the remaining scallions, check seasonings and cook for 2 minutes then serve.
Almost any idiot can buy a bag of frozen wings or bring home previously made wings from the grocery store and heat them up with a bottled sauce. A true party host makes wings from scratch and it’s not as hard as a lot of people think.
I used to only the smaller chicken drumsticks known as drumettes because they’re easier to hold, more meaty, and they seem to be enjoyed more than wing pieces. Then I met my wife who only eats “the flats,” as she calls them so...whatever you like. Also, this recipe intentionally produces extra sauce you can serve on the side if guests want even more flavor.
This sauce is “hot,” to most people but not nitro. For more mild wings, cut the Frank’s and Tabasco sauce measurements by half, (bearing in mind it will produce less sauce), or use more Frank’s and less Tabasco. For hotter wings, increase the Tabasco and/or for much hotter wings, increase the amount of cayenne to your liking)
3 Pounds chicken drumettes and/or wing flats (about 20 total)
1 cup butter
¾ cup Frank’s wing sauce (available in any grocery store; use regular or red hot to fit your tastes)
¼ cup Tabasco sauce
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
Your favorite dipping sauce and accessories (ranch, bleu cheese, celery, etc)
SERVES 2 AS A MAIN DISH, 4 AS A SIDE/APPETIZER
- In a small saucepan melt butter over medium-low heat
- Using a whisk, add in hot sauces, and all spices
- Turn on your oven broiler and position rack approximately 6 inches below broiler (usually the second highest rack)
- I recommend lining the bottom of your broiler pan with foil to catch drips. Oil the top broiler pan (Pam spray is fine) and arrange the wings on the pan
- Brush each wing with the warm sauce and place in broiler for 7 minutes
- Turn each wing and baste again, also rotate the broiler pan so the wings that were facing front are now facing the rear of the oven. Broil for an additional 7 minutes
- Again, turn the wings, baste, rotate pan and broil for 5 minutes
- At this point you have cooked the wings for just over 22 minutes. Ovens vary, so you will need to be diligent as you want your wings cooked through but not dried out. At my home, at this stage I again turn the wings, baste a final time, turn the broiler off and place the wings back in the oven for 3 minutes
- Remove the wings and toss them with most of the remaining sauce in a large serving bowl. Serve remainder of sauce on the side for additional dipping.
This recipe may remind you of a certain Asian food chain restaurant and their most popular appetizer. Or not.
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 pound ground chicken breast
2 tablespoons minced garlic
1 medium sized white onion, diced
¼ cup hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
2 teaspoons Sriracha
1 eight (8) ounce can of whole water chestnuts, drained and diced
2 green onions thinly sliced
1 head butter or iceberg lettuce (I actually prefer to mix and match)
MAKES 6-8 LETTUCE WRAPS
- In a wok or large skillet, warm sesame oil over medium heat.
- Add the ground chicken and cook while breaking it up into small chunks to resemble ground beef. Cook until cooked through but not done.
- Stir in the garlic, onion, hoisin sauce, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, chopped ginger, and Sriracha sauce and mix until chicken is coated.
- Stir in water chestnuts and mix gently but thoroughly
- To serve, spoon several tablespoons of the chicken mixture into the center of a lettuce leaf and eat “taco style.”
Chicken Tortilla Soup has become incredibly popular in the last 2 decades…but man, oh man, do people make it and like it differently. For some ungodly reason, lots of people like it as a broth based soup as opposed to a creamy soup. Yuck. This recipe went through multiple attempts before getting it correct as a CREAMY tortilla soup.
1 ½ pounds cooked chicken, shredded (the easiest thing to use is a grocery store rotisserie chicken)
8 medium corn tortillas, sliced into strips
1 small onion, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons black pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped and divided
1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes with chilies
48 ounces chicken stock, divided
1 can 16 ounces refried beans
1 Anaheim chili, diced
2 cups corn (fresh off the cob or frozen and thawed)
22 ounces cream of chicken soup
1 avocado, chopped
½ cup shredded cheese
2 tablespoons olive oil
- In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium high heat
- Add half of the tortilla strips, onion, 1 teaspoon of cilantro, garlic, cumin, tomato paste, chili powder, salt, black pepper, and diced Anaheim pepper and sauté for 2 minutes
- Add 24 ounces of the chicken stock, tomatoes with their juice, refried beans and corn and stir well. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat immediately and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add cream of chicken soup and remaining broth and stir. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes
- Add cooked chicken and 1 tablespoon of cilantro and heat through
- Meanwhile, preheat oven to 375 degrees
- Place the remaining tortilla strips on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.
- Bake for 8-12 minutes until strips are crispy.
- Serve the soup topped with the remaining cilantro, avocado, shredded cheese and baked strips.
Always a source of controversy, I like my eggs to have a slight mustard and lemon bite with just a bit of spice.
6 Hard boiled eggs
3 tablespoons Miracle Whip
1 ½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 ½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon salt
Cayenne for garnish
Makes 12 Deviled Eggs
- Slice eggs in half long ways and remove yolks
- Smash yolks and mix in salt and pepper
- Add miracle whip, mustard and lemon juice to the yolks and mix well. (If smoother consistency is desired, add more miracle whip)
- Re-fill eggs with new yolk mixture and garnish each with an even sprinkle of paprika or cayenne
- Chill covered, bring to just below room temperature for serving
You can tailor this recipe to your personal style of preferred salsa. I like mine chunky, so it has small diced tomatoes, whereas others like a more blended, liquid texture to their salsa (so just blend it up more…duh).
I recommend using a large food processor to make this great and easy all at once.
1 Pound Roma tomatoes, chopped into eighths
1/3 cup cilantro
1 medium shallot, peeled and chopped into eighths
1 medium sized jalapeno pepper sliced into rounds
4 cloves of fresh garlic
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon sea salt (plus more as needed to taste)
¼ teaspoon paprika
¼ teaspoon cumin
MAKES ABOUT 3 CUPS
- Place all ingredients, prepped as above, into a food processor or blender (or you can process/blend in batches and then mix everything together in a large bowl afterwards).
- Pulse/blend until you get the consistency you’d like. I usually do 7-10 pulses.
- Check the taste, adjust seasonings as needed and stir.
- Place salsa in a covered bowl and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes (and up to overnight)
- Prior to serving, you have one final decision to make; if you like a more liquid-based salsa and have pulsed accordingly, serve as is. If you’re like me and you like a chunkier salsa, drain and then serve.
I like my guacamole to have a spicy bite to it. Made like this, it will be spicy, but not super hot. Add more jalapenos if you like it hotter, use fewer if you don't like as much spice. Even if you're a wiener about spice, at least use ½ of a jalapeno for flavor. I don’t believe traditional Guac has tomatoes so there are none in this recipe.
3 medium, very ripe (soft and dark green/black) avocados
1/8 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (use real limes, not the crap from the jar…usually takes 3-4 small limes to get 1/8 cup)
1/3 cup fresh, finely chopped cilantro
2 medium shallots, very finely chopped
1 teaspoon garlic paste
3 medium jalapeno peppers, seeds & stems removed, very finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (perhaps more to taste)
corn tortilla chips
- Halve each avocado, remove its pit and scoop the flesh into a mixing bowl. I like to slice it into cubes while still in its’ shell and then place in the bowl.
2. Pour the lime juice over the avocado.
3. If you’re not using a traditional mortar and pestle, use a fork or the back of a spoon to mash the avocado, leaving it slightly chunky.
4. Stir in the cilantro, shallot, garlic paste, jalapeno and salt and stir well to mix.
5. Taste. If too spicy or salty, cut another avocado and add in. More likely, you may need to add more salt or another minced pepper.
6. Cover the bowl and place in the fridge for at least 15 minutes before serving.
Despite its’ name, this dish has nothing to do with weddings nor Italian tradition. The literal name of the dish is “Minestra Maritata,” which refers to the marriage between greens and meat in the soup. Idiotic mis-translations renamed it Italian Wedding Soup, but it is not a dish traditionally served at Italian weddings.
Obviously, the basic elements of the traditional dish are meat and greens, defined as meatballs and a form of chard. There are a billion variations to the dish including adding tomatoes to make the broth red rather than clear as well as many recipes which add pasta for a noodle factor. As always, I prefer dishes basically the way they were meant to be made, and this version reflects that spirit; you will get a clear brothed, flavorful meatball soup with greens. Under normal circumstances, I would brown my meatballs first, but traditionally these babies are boiled in the soup…
1 ¼ pound ground meat (you can use all lean beef or mix and match beef, veal, and pork to suit your tastes)
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
2/3 cup seasoned dry Italian bread crumbs
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2/3 cup grated Romano cheese
2 teaspoons dried basil
¼ teaspoon black pepper
About 90 ounces chicken broth
1 medium white onion, chopped
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 cups chopped/shredded escarole (can substitute spinach)
3 ounces baby arugula
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons Tabasco (not traditional, but adds a very nice kick to the soup)
Salt & pepper as needed
MAKES 8 SERVINGS
- For the meatballs, combine all ingredients at once in a large bowl and mix well, using your hands.
- Form into small, bite sized balls. Larger than marbles, smaller than golf balls.
- In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat
- Add onions and garlic and a sprinkling of salt and pepper and cook, stirring for about 4 minutes.
- Add broth and bring soup to a boil over high heat
- Add meatballs and cook for 5 minutes
- Add escarole and arugula and Tabasco
- In a separate bowl, combine 5 remaining fresh eggs and 1 cup of parmesan, mixing well.
- Add cheese/egg mix to soup and stir well.
- Cook soup for 5 more minutes and serve.
You don’t have to have a deep fryer at home to make disgustingly good bar food. If you do, use this technique and follow your fryer’s instructions for cooking. If not, do what I do…use a cast iron skillet or Dutch Oven.
16 ounce block pasteurized mozzarella (not fresh!) cut into sticks 4x1/2 inch
1 cup Italian style dried breadcrumbs
¾ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon sea salt
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon Italian seasoning
¼ teaspoon dried parsley
2 large eggs, beaten
1 ½ cups vegetable oil (more as/if needed)
Marinara Sauce and/or ranch dressing and other dipping sauces as desired
SERVES 6 (ABOUT 50 PIECES TOTAL)
- Stir the breadcrumbs, parmesan, salt, and seasonings together
- Dip the mozzarella cheese in the eggs to coat, allow excess egg to drip back into the bowl
- Coat the cheese in the bread crumb mixture
- Repeat dipping the cheese sticks in the egg and bread crumb mixture to coat a second time
- Place on a large baking sheet, cover and freeze until frozen, about 2 hours (and can remain in freezer for up to 2 days before proceeding to the next step)
- Heat the oil over medium heat, preferably to about 350 degrees
- Working in batches as the size of your pan will allow, fry the cheese until golden brown, about 1 minute per side.
Transfer to a plate and serve as desired
Rob's Pickle Soup Recipe
After discussing this recipe on-air I was charged with making it. I basically followed the recipe that has gone viral but made a few changes as I was going. In the end, you get something that resembles a potato chowder with dill flavoring. My fiancé Christina rightfully identified the soup would be much improved with some bacon or ham…have fun!
Makes 6-8 Bowls
3 cups Chicken Broth
1 pound russet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 cups chopped celery and carrots
1 cup chopped dill pickles
¼ cup unsalted butter
¼ cup flour
½ cup fat free sour cream
1/8 cup water
1 cup dill pickle juice
1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
In a medium bowl, stir together flour, sour cream, and water, making a paste. Set aside.
Over medium high heat melt butter in a large saucepan
Add Celery, carrots and potatoes. Saute for 5 minutes
Add broth and bring to a boil. Boil for 10-12 minutes, making potatoes tender
Add pickles and stir
Using a whisk, add sour cream paste, 2 tablespoons at a time into boiling soup.
- Add pickle juice, seasoning and pepper. Stir to mix, simmer for 5 minutes and serve
RAD Brine For The Big Game (and other uses not just for your Turkey)
Courtesy of our friends at Smoke Junction Café, who have spent hours in their test kitchen, come additional uses for the RAD brine for Chicken, Pork Chops, and just in time for the Big Game, RIBS!!!
Whole Chicken = ½ bag of brine:
Most chickens are between 5-7lbs and a half bag of R.A.D. brine (measures slightly more than 1 cup of brine) will be just right to brine the chicken. In a saucepan, heat and dissolve the brine in 1 quart water (1 quart = 4 cups), then cool. While that cools, add almost 3 quarts of ice along with cold water until there is 3 quarts total of ice water in the container you will brine the chicken in. Best method to accomplish this is to use a container that is clear plastic and has measurements on the container and can accommodate up to 7 or 8 quarts of volume due to the fact that this is the approximate total volume needed once the chicken is added. Kitchen supply stores will have these containers. Next add the 1 quart dissolved brine mixture to the 3 quarts ice water and stir. There should still be ample amounts of ice, approximately ½ of the amount of liquid and temperature should be at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, before adding the chicken. Place container with the chicken in refrigerator for up to 12 hours. For best results, do not brine the chicken longer than 12 hours. This same method can be used for either a whole chicken or a whole chicken cut into parts.
4 Pork chops = 4 tablespoons of brine:
In a saucepan, add 4 tablespoons of brine to 2 cups water to dissolve. Cool the brine and add 2 cups of ice water. Choose a container that can accommodate more than 2 quarts of volume. Depending on size of pork chops (typical size for chops will likely be 6 to 8 oz each), a container that is at least a 3 quart may be necessary. Make sure brine mixture is at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit before adding chops. Best method is to ready the brine liquid the night before, refrigerate overnight, then add chops to the brine the morning of the evening you plan to cook them. Pork chops should be brined 8 to 10 hours in refrigeration that is maintained at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Brine method can be modified to add 2 tablespoon of brine to 1 cup water, per every additional 1 pound of chops you intend to brine.
3 racks pork back ribs = 1 bag of brine:
Most pork back ribs you will find with your local grocery store will be 2 to 2.5 lbs per rack. Add 1 bag of brine to 2 quarts water in saucepan, heat and dissolve brine. Cool brine and add 3 quarts ice water to it and stir. Making sure the 5 quarts total of brine liquid is at or below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, add to rib racks so that they are completely covered in the liquid. Baking pans can sometimes work well for this (do not use metal or aluminum). Refrigerate overnight for up to 12 hours. R.A.D. Rub has the perfect balance of seasoning to salt ratio to add to these brined ribs prior to grilling or smoking.
Helpful tip: Be mindful of how much salt you are adding to any brined meat prior to cooking, in most cases you can get away with half of what you would normally use for your favorite seasoning recipe or even leave it out altogether – remember you can always add salt to taste later but you can’t take it out once its cooked.
No! No! No! Don’t leave…trust me, this is amazing! It’s not like that crap your Grandma made or that you get out of a can. This is sooooooo good! And yes, it needs a slow cooker/Crock Pot to be done perfectly
1 pound dried green split peas, rinsed
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
2 medium celery ribs (sticks) diced
1 medium shallot diced
2 bay leaves
1 meaty smoked ham bone/hock (about 2 pounds)
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups beef broth
3 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons white pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon dried marjoram
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 ½ pounds cooked ham, diced
MAKES 6-8 SERVINGS
- In a slow cooker, arrange the split peas in an even layer, add the carrots, celery, shallots, and bay leaves.
- Place the ham bone on top of the vegetables
- Pour the broths into the cooker and add salt, peppers, and all spices and seasonings.
- Cover and cook on low for 9 hours or high for 5 hours
- Remove the ham bone to a cutting board and remove meat from the bone. Place ham bone meat and the 1 ½ pounds of cooked ham back into the soup (discard the bone) and stir to taste. Check for seasonings, adjust. Cook for 15 minutes on low and serve
Yes, the idea is that it’s a soup that tastes like a taco. It’s that simple. A Crock-Pot makes it a “set-it and forget it” idea, but this can easily be done on a stove top. Directions for both appear below simultaneously
1 pound ground beef
2 cups diced white onions
3 cans (15 ounces) pinto beans and/or white chili beans
8 ounces whole kernels of corn
One can (14 ounces) Mexican style stewed tomatoes
One can (14 ounces) tomatoes with chilies
9 ounces canned diced green chilies
½ cup beef broth
2 ½ ounces dried taco seasoning mix
1 ounce dried ranch salad dressing mix
Corn or tortilla chips
For garnish at serving:
Chopped green onions
Freshly sliced avocados
MAKES 6 SERVINGS
- In a large saucepan or Dutch Oven, over medium high heat, brown the ground beef with the onions for about 3 minutes.
- Add the beans, corn, tomatoes, chilies, broth, and seasonings and stir to combine. On a stove top, bring to a boil and then simmer on low for about an hour, check seasonings and simmer for an additional 30 minutes. If using a slow cooker, transfer all ingredients after combining to the Crock Pot and cook on low for 6 hours or high for 3 hours.
- To serve, place chips in each bowl and ladle the soup over them. Top with garnishes as desired.
Yes, that Zuppa Toscana. Technically, the term means “soup in the style of Tuscany,” but most Americans, including my wife Christina, know it as the best soup the Olive Garden Restaurant serves. This is my version (and I’m told it’s better than any she’s ever had).
¾ pound crumbled mild Italian sausage
¾ pound crumbled hot Italian sausage
2 large russet baking potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite sized cubes
1 large white onion, chopped
4 slices thick cut bacon, cooked and chopped
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 cups chopped kale
28 ounces chicken broth
16 ounces beef broth
2 teaspoons cornstarch mixed with 1 teaspoon water
1 cup heavy whipping cream
MAKES 6 SERVINGS
- In a large saucepan or Dutch Oven, over medium high heat, brown Italian sausage for about 3-5 minutes
- Add onions, garlic, salt, pepper, and red pepper and stir well
- Reduce heat to medium and add potatoes and all broth. Bring to a boil
- Reduce heat to medium and simmer until potatoes are slightly tender, 8-10 minutes.
- Add cornstarch mixture, stir and simmer for 15 minutes
- Reduce heat to low and add in kale and cooked bacon.
- Remove from heat and slowly pour in cream while stirring.
- Check for taste, add salt and/or pepper as needed and serve