Chicky-Cauliflower-Cheesy Bake

chickyThis is comfort food, simply put. Just add some nice bread and a salad and you gotta meal that will satisfy.

Easy to put together as well.

And this works nicely with leftover turkey as well, so around the holidays, what’s not to like here?

Vary your cheese as you please, and any kind of pasta will do.

So get busy!


  • 4 tablespoons (2 ounces) unsalted butter, divided
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups homemade or store-bought low sodium chicken stock
  • 1 cup milk
  • 8 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 4 ounces Gruyère, shredded
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili flakes
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 pound cauliflower florets
  • 1 pound skinless, boneless, chicken thighs, cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle pepper
  • 7 sheets no-boil lasagna noodles, broken into 2-inch shards, (I used rotelli, about a cup uncooked)
  • 3/4 cup panko (or plain bread crumbs)
  • 2 ounces Parmesan, grated


  1. Adjust oven rack to upper middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Stir in flour and cook until lightly toasted, about 30 seconds. Slowly whisk in broth and milk, removing all lumps. Bring to simmer, remove from heat, and slowly whisk in cheddar and Gruyère until melted and smooth. Stir in chili flakes, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; set aside and keep warm.

  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add cauliflower and cook briefly, stirring occasionally—cauliflower should remain crisp, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to baking dish.

  3. Heat remaining tablespoon oil in same skillet over medium heat. Add chicken and ground chipotle and cook until almost cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to baking dish.

  4. Cook the pasta until al dente. Place in the baking dish with the chicken and cauliflower. Pour the cheese sauce over. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 20 minutes.
  5. Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter and toss with panko, grated Parmesan, and 1/8 teaspoon salt. Remove baking dish from oven and remove foil. Sprinkle with bread crumb topping and continue to bake until browned and bubbly, about 10 minutes more. Let rest 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

    SERVES: 6

    NOTES: Vary the cheeses as you desire, as well as the pasta. You can break up no-cook lasagna noodles (original to the recipe) which would speed up the prep time. As I said above, leftover turkey from holidays would be great with this, as well as cubed ham.

    SOURCE: Serious Eats with slight modifications.


Sausage ‘n Beer ‘n Cheesey Chowdah

brats-and-beer-cheddar-chowder-R123235-ssOh my goodness is this a great soup or what.

It is sooo very rich.

And so filling.

And so gooey delightful.

A little goes a long way. I would recommend eating this in a smaller bowl rather than a larger as a side to a great grilled sandwich perhaps, or with a great salad.

But you will surely add this one to your repertoire I promise you.


  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 lb. cooked Andouille sausage links, cut into rounds or half rounds (your choice)
  • 5 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely minced
  • 1 large sweet onion, finely diced
  • Kosher salt
  • White Pepper
  • 6 tbsp. unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups reduced sodium chicken broth or stock, at room temperature or slightly warm
  • 1 12-ounce beer, preferably some sort of pale ale or other light-colored beer, at room temperature or slightly warm
  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ tsp. dry mustard
  • ½ tsp. dried thyme
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature (or heated briefly in the microwave to take the chill off)
  • 1 cup milk, at room temperature (or heated briefly in the microwave to take the chill off)
  • 7 ounces of Dubliner Cheese, Dubliner Cheese with Irish Stout or Gouda (not smoked unless you want that strong smoky flavor), shredded (I used the Gouda)
  • 3 ounces of Manchego cheese (or Pecorino Romano or Asiago), grated (I used the Romano)
  • 4 ounces sharp cheddar, shredded
  • Toasted sourdough bread wedges to serve, optional


  1. Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat
  2. Add the sausage and cook until the nicely browned on the outside. Don’t rush this, you want a nice crust on each piece and flavorful bits in the bottom of the pan. This will take about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to flip the pieces
  3. Remove the sausage from the pan to a medium bowl for later. There should be about 1 tbsp. of fat left in the pan
  4. Add the butter and stir until melted
  5. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly for about 1 minute or until fragrant
  6. Add the onion and cook until translucent and caramelized, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn down the heat to medium low if necessary.
  7. Add a generous pinch of salt and white pepper and stir
  8. Add the flour and stir into the vegetables, cooking for about 3 minutes to cook out the “raw flour” taste
  9. Whisk in the chicken broth and then the beer
  10. Stir in the Worcestershire sauce, mustard, thyme, cayenne, bay leaf and another pinch of salt and pepper
  11. Cook until thickened, about 10-15 minutes
  12. Remove the bay leaf and turn heat down to low
  13. Allow soup to STOP boiling. When you add the cream, milk and cheese in the next step you must be sure not to let it come to a boil during or after this incorporation or the soup will “break” and/or become grainy
  14. Stir in the cream and milk until fully combined
  15. Add the cheese, stirring until melted
  16. Check for seasoning, adjusting as necessary with salt and pepper
  17. Stir in sausage pieces, or garnish individual bowls with sausage pieces
  18. When reheating, do so gently and again, do not allow boiling or it will become grainy!

SERVES: 8-10

NOTES: You can of course use any sausage you wish, vary the beer according to your likes, and vary the cheese as well. The cheese would have the greatest impact on taste however.

SOURCE: TherapyBread




Horsy Ranch Dressing

ranchdressFrankly making your own dressing is very easy.

Better yet, it’s so much better to eat than that stuff from stores that has a list of chemical additives that are unpronounceable and mysterious. HINT: it seems to take decades sometimes before things we were told were safe turn out not to be so. So in my book, it’s just plain smart to make your own at least most of the time from real food.

This has a pleasant horseradish tang that is lovely with salads, especially those with some tart, and spicy lettuce notes like arugula and curly endive. Also very nice on tomatoes.



  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons chopped parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper


  1. Put all together in a bowl and whisk.
  2. Transfer to a lidded pint jar and store in the fridge for a good week.

SERVES: makes a good pint

NOTES: you can easily half this recipe

SOURCE: Addapinch


Cheesecake Coffeecake

cheeseIf you have a sweet tooth when it comes to breakfast, well, I have a solution.

This is an interesting coffeecake. It really surprises you I think.

I’m tempted to think of all the neat things you could add to it, like lemons and blueberries, or strawberries, or chocolate chips.

And you can do that, very easily for sure.

But somehow it has this integrity of its own. A distinctive, not slap-you-in-the-face kinda taste that is somehow endearing and wonderful with a great cup of coffee. And it is COFFEE cake after all.

So try it on its own once, and then go ahead and fuss with it if you desire.


For the cake:
    • 3/4 stick (6 tablespoons) softened butter
    • 1 cup sugar
    • 1 tsp vanilla
    • 1/2 cup buttermilk
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
    • 2 tsp baking powder
    • pinch of salt
For the cheesecake swirl:
    • 1 (8 oz) package Philadelphia cream cheese, at room temperature
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • 1 egg
    • 1 tsp vanilla
For the streusel:
  • 1 cup AP flour
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 4 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces


  1. First make the streusel by “forking” all the ingredients together until crumbly. Put in refrigerator until ready to use.
  2. Preheat oven to 350. Lightly grease an 8×8 baking pan.
  3. In a large bowl, make the cheesecake swirl by beating together the cream cheese, sugar, egg, and vanilla until smooth. Set aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add in the vanilla, buttermilk, and eggs.
  5. Gently mix in the flour, baking powder, and salt until just combined. Do not overmix.
  6. Pour half of the cake batter into the prepared pan. Pour half of the cheesecake mixture on top, using a knife to swirl. Repeat with the rest of the batters.
  7. Evenly distribute the streusel topping on top of the batter.
  8. Bake for 35-40 minutes.


NOTES: As I said, you could add a bit of lemon juice or zest. You could add some fresh blueberries or strawberries sliced. Little dabs of blackberry jam dropped in the middle layer is possible. Or a layer of chocolate chips.

SOURCE: LovintheOven


OVEN TIME: 35-40 min.

The Doctor Pepper Cake!

dr-pepper-chocolate-cakeYes, it’s the famous Dr. Pepper Cake! There are a lot of versions around, but I liked this one the best, and it came out fabulously, and the frosting is wonderful as well.

You can make this as a two layer thing, but I don’t advise you to. Put it in a nice bit baking pan about 10 x 15 or thereabouts. You want to leave plenty of room, because the frosting is done in just a few minutes and you POUR it over the top and it just snuggles into every crevice covering  the entire thing, and you are done in like ten minutes.

I’m posting the frosting recipe separately, because you can use it on any cake that you leave in the pan.


  • 1-½ cup Dr. Pepper Soda
  • ½ cups Vegetable Or Canola Oil
  • 1 stick Butter, Salted (8 Tablespoons)
  • 4 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder (The best you can get)
  • 2 cups Sugar
  • 2 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 2 whole Eggs
  • ½ cups Buttermilk


  1. Preheat oven to 350°. Using shortening, grease the pan.
  2. Begin by combining the Dr. Pepper, oil, butter and cocoa powder in a saucepan over medium heat. When it comes to a simmer, mix well and turn the stove off.
  3. Mix dry ingredients together (sugar, flour and baking soda); add to the mixture in the saucepan and mix well. Don’t over beat.
  4. In a separate small bowl, lightly beat the eggs and buttermilk together, then add them to the saucepan and combine the batter well.
  5. Pour into a greased baking pan and bake at 350° for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean. Be careful not to over bake.


NOTES: You can use your own frosting if you wish but Pourable Chocolate Frosting is fabulous.

SOURCE: Tasty Kitchen

OVEN: 350°

OVEN TIME: 20-25 min.

Pourable Chocolate Frosting

chocfrostThis is an excellent frosting and bonus, it’s pourable. It cooks up in a jiffy and then you just pour it on a warm or cooled cake. It obviously is best on a cake that is baked in a pan and will be served from it.

It will stiffen up enough to not run after it has cooled but it’s still very soft, so I wouldn’t try it on a layer cake.



  • 1 stick Butter, Salted (8 Tablespoons)
  • 4 Tablespoons Cocoa Powder (again, I Recommend Using A Dark Cocoa Powder)
  • 8 Tablespoons Milk
  • 4 cups Confectioners Sugar (Powdered Sugar)


  1. Combine everything but the powdered sugar in a saucepan and heat until the cocoa has melted out and everything is smooth.
  2. Add the powdered sugar a cup at a time and whisk until smooth.
  3. Cool very slightly then pour over the cake, using a knife where needed to spread.

SERVES: About 1 1/2 cups

NOTES: A nice addition might be some chopped nuts on top. Put on before the frosting has totally cooled and set.

SOURCE: Tasty Kitchen

Crock Pot Italian Beef Sandwiches

Crock-Pot-Italian-Beef-Sandwiches-03_miniThis is a recipe that one can find in plenty of places around the Internet. It sounds weird, but it turns out very very good. There is some variation in the recipes, so I kind of winged it here and there.  But the point is that it’s about pickled peppers. And a good piece of meat, and au jus. And did I say cheese?

Again, we deal with versatility here, so you can substitute a bunch of the ingredients.


  • 3 lb roast, chuck, sirloin tip are you best bets.
  • Italian seasonings, dried granular garlic, dried onion, oregano, salt and pepper will do nicely.
  • 8 oz of either banana pepper rings (chop whole ones yourself), or pepperoncini peppers, sliced roughly.
  • 8 oz of some giardiniera (Chicago style or California as you wish), chop up a bit if it’s the California style with chunks of cauliflower
  • about 1 c of beef broth
  • slices of cheese (again whatever you like, from provolone to cheddar)
  • hoagie rolls


  1. Put the roast in the crock pot. Season with the Italian seasonings (you can use a dried packet of Italian dressing, but I don’t advise it since it’s full of salt) You want a good couple of tablespoons total.
  2. Pour in the pickled peppers with some of the juice, say 1/3 of a cup.
  3. Pour in the giardiniera, drained
  4. Add the beef broth.
  5. Turn on low and cook for 9 hours.
  6. If the meat is shredding at this point, remove from the crock pot and shred.
  7. Return to the pot and cook for another hour.
  8. Using a slotted spoon, remove the meat and peppers to a serving container. Place the juice in another dish for serving alongside.
  9. Slice the hoagies in half and place the meat mixture on top of one side, place some cheese over, and add additional giardiniera or peppers if you wish. Dip in the au jus.


NOTES: Use the pickled peppers you like best. And the cheese. Some folks swear by Cheez Wiz. I don’t recommend that, since I find it awful, but to each his own.

SOURCE: this recipe is everywhere but I thought IowaGirl Eats was a pretty basic one.