Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Bodacious Burritos!!


While we're all caught up in the excitement of the hockey playoffs, there's another event happening this week that has our attention: the NFL Draft. Yes, when it comes to football, we're hardcore. We're all in with the pigskin. So it shouldn't surprise you to know that my pals and I are getting together to watch The NFL Draft. We need to see who our teams are going to take. For this event, I decided to make Bodacious Burritos!

I actually made these ahead of time and froze them because they take a little time to prepare and I wasn't going to have that kind of time during the week. I defrosted them in the fridge the night before and then reheated them in the oven for 30 minutes. These are pretty hearty and a half of a burrito was enough for me, but the hungrier souls will be able to scarf down a whole one with no problem. These burritos are meaty and cheesy. You can make them as spicy as you want - or not at all. With my crowd, I always have to have hot sauce on hand because things can't be too spicy with them. But whatever spice level you enjoy, these are going to be a hit at your next gathering.

Bodacious Burritos
(Serves 4)

2 lbs lean ground beef (or turkey)  
1 med/large onion, minced
3 tbs canola oil    
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 1/2 tbs chili powder
2 medium red (or green) jalapeno,
minced (optional)
1 1/2 tbs dried cilantro (or 2 tbs of
fresh, minced)
2 tbs tomato paste
1 1/2 cups canned beans (red or black),
2 cups pre-cooked rice (white or brown)
12 slices of cheddar (or American) cheese
4 burrito wrappers
4 sheets of aluminum foil
salt & pepper to taste


1.  Pre-heat oven to 350-degrees. In a large skillet or cast iron frying pan, heat the oil on medium heat and saute onions until translucent. Add the ground beef and brown. Break up the meat into small bits. Salt and pepper to taste.

2.  Add the garlic powder, chili powder, jalapeno, cilantro and tomato paste. Mix thoroughly and heat through.

3.  Add the beans and rice. Continue to heat through.

4.  Place 2 slices of the cheddar on a burrito wrap and add 1 cup of the burrito filling into the middle of the burrito wrap and then place another slice of cheese on top of that. Fold the sides over the filling, then fold the bottom of wrap over the filling and continue to roll up to the top of the wrap. Do this with the remaining wraps.

5. Wrap each burrito in aluminum foil, place on a sheet pan and place in oven. Bake for 10-12 minutes until the cheese is melted.

6.  Remove from oven, unwrap and serve with hot sauce on the side (optional).

And there you have it. These take a little while to prepare, but they are definitely worth it. As I said, you can make these ahead and freeze them. They're great for last-minute guests or a quick snack, lunch or dinner. Hope you try them.

Until next week, keep on homegating! See you then!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Cheeseburger Dip!!


The hockey playoffs are under way and things are getting really interesting already. My team is in it, so my pals have been stopping by to catch the games. Naturally I like to put on my thinking cap to come up with something different each time they come over. I came across an old recipe that I had done in culinary school. I did a little tweeking and came up with this: Cheeseburger Dip.

If you think about it, a cheeseburger dip has pretty much all the elements of a cheeseburger and then some. You've got your ground beef, onions, cheese, ketchup, mayo and pickles. What binds it together and makes it "dippy" is cream cheese. Make sure that the ground beef that you use is very lean, otherwise it will make the dip very greasy. I made that mistake once  -  and I learned real fast. Once the dip is assembled, place a few slices of American cheese on top and place it in the oven until it's bubbly. It can be served with chips and/or crackers.

Cheeseburger Dip                             (serves 6)                      

1/2 medium onion, minced
1 lb lean ground beef
16 oz cheddar cheese, shredded
2 (8oz) packages of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup mayo
1/4 cup ketchup
1 medium dill pickle, minced
1 tbs pickle juice
1-2 slices of American cheese


1. Pre-heat oven to 350-degrees. Saute the onions and ground beef until the beef is cooked through (about 10 minutes). Drain cooked meat/onions in a strainer. You don't want any grease in the dip. Place in a bowl.

2. In a food processor, add remaining ingredients. Process until smooth. Add to the ground beef mixture and mix through.

3. Pour dip into an ovenproof dish and place strips of American cheese on top.

4. Place in oven and heat through until slightly browned and bubbly.

And there you have it! This is a great dip for any occasion. It doesn't take long to prepare. You can even saute the beef and onions ahead of time and assemble the rest of the dip later on. I hope you try it.

Until next week, keep on homegating!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Huevos Diablos!!


The hockey playoffs begin tonight. The Round of 16 is in place and so begins the quest for the Stanley Cup. We're especially jazzed here because our team is in. As a result, that means that Homegating101 Headquarters is open for the duration - and I wouldn't have it any other way. As long as they keep showing up to watch the games, I'll keep coming up with tasty dishes.

I had extra hardboiled eggs leftover from Easter and needed to do something with them. I knew I was going to tire of eating them throughout the week, so went with a good ol' standby. You can never got wrong with deviled eggs. But these aren't your standard deviled eggs. These are Homegating101-style deviled eggs. Give a warm (and I mean that literally) welcome to:  Huevos Diablos!

Huevos Diablos are definitely hot ones.  The combination of sriracha and cayenne provides the warmest kick this side of Hades. If you like spicy, these are spicy and yet still flavorful. The secret ingredient here is the smoked paprika. It balances out the heat of the sriracha and cayenne, so you wind up with a smoky-spicy flavor. These will go perfectly with an ice cold chilly beer, that's for sure. I know my friends will really enjoy them.

Huevos Diablos
(seves 4-6)

1 dozen hardboiled eggs, halved          
3 tbs mayo
1 1/2 tbs sriracha
1/8 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp onion powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne powder
2 tbs white vinegar


Pop the yolks into a food processor and add remaining ingredients. Mix until creamy. Taste and adjust seasonings. Pipe into egg whites and serve.

So there you have it.  I hope you decide to try these for your Playoff gathering - or any gathering for that matter.

If your team made it to the Playoffs, good luck!

I will see you back here next week for some more gameday stories and culinary inspiration! Keep homegating!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Ham Rolls!!


Remember when I thought my March Madness Bracket Challenge went down in flames? Turns out I won the whole thing! Even though I bombed out on some of the matches, I stayed alive in the points and wound up with the correct Final Four, the championship matchup and the winner. Sweet! So now with that over, we turn our attention to the new baseball season, along with the upcoming hockey and basketball playoffs. Since our hockey team made the Playoffs, a bunch of us will definitely be getting together for those games. Naturally I'll want to whip up something yummy and fun for the gang, so I'm going retro with this one:  Ham Rolls!

When I was a kid and company came over, one of the appetizers my mom used to make were ham rolls stuffed with cream cheese. It was one of her go-to dishes. We loved them. There was something about that combo of cream cheese and ham that was irresistable. Now that I'm a big kid, I decided to ramp my version up a bit, so I made the filling with cream cheese, goat cheese, fresh chives and a little ground white pepper. This takes literally minutes to prepare. The goat cheese adds a subtle bite to the cream cheese, while the chives give the filling a delicate onion flavor. You can prepare these ahead and fridge them until the gang comes over.

Ham Rolls
(serves 4)                                              

1/2 lb sliced ham (not too thin)
8 oz package cream cheese, softened
4 oz package goat cheese, softened
2 tbs minced fresh chives
Pinch of ground white pepper


Mix the cream cheese, goat cheese, chives and white pepper together. Spread 1 tbs of the cheese mixture along the edge of a slice of the ham. Roll the ham and slice into 3 pieces. Repeat with the remaining ham and cheese mixture.

And that's it! You can't get much easier than that for a munchie your friends and family will be raving about for years  -  or at least until the Playoffs are over!

Good luck to your hockey and basketball teams going into the Playoffs and hope your baseball teams have good seasons!

I'll see you back here next week for more gameday inspiration!

Keep homegating!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Munch Madness IV: Pizza Rustica!!


March Madness is wrapping up as we're down to the Final Four! Are these the teams you expected? Somehow, someway it turns out that my bracket isn't as dead as I thought it was. I'm actually still in the running, as I have 2 of the 4 teams in the Final Four (don't ask me how, but I'm not going to complain!). This weekend is going to be a big one and I figured that big matchups deserved a big appy:  Pizza Rustica!

Pizza Rustica is a traditional Italian stuffed pizza served around Easter time. This has been a legendary recipe in my family. There aren't a lot of ingredients in it:  pizza dough, whole milk ricotta, mozzarella, dried sausage, soppressata, granulated garlic, egg and grated romano cheese. What you'll wind up with is a rich, creamy, cheesy bite of nirvana. It takes a little time to make and assemble this dish, but the results will make you a superstar.

Worth the effort
Pizza Rustica
(serves 10-12)
                                                        13x9x2 roasting pan                       2 packages pizza dough
32 oz container of whole milk ricotta
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
1/2 cup grated romano cheese
2 (16oz) packages mozzarella, sliced thinly
1 stick dry sausage, sliced
1 stick soppressata, sliced
olive oil


1.  Pre-heat oven to 350-degrees. Rub about 2 tsp olive oil all over the inside of a 13x9x2 roasting pan. Roll out 1 package of the pizza dough and place it inside the roasting pan. Make sure to leave some of the dough hanging over the edges.

2.  In a mixing bowl, stir together the ricotta cheese, 2 eggs, granulated garlic and romano cheese.

3.  Begin assembling the pizza filling:  pour half the ricotta filling into the pie shell. Smooth out. Place a layer of sliced mozzarella on top of the ricotta. Make sure the ricotta is covered with the mozz. Place a layer of dry sausage, followed by a layer of the soppressata. Pour the remaining ricotta over that and repeat with the layers.

4.  Roll out the second pizza dough and cover the top of the pie. Fold the dough from the bottom of the pie over the dough from the top. Roll to close and tighten around the edges. Brush the top with olive oil and pierce the dough in several places to vent.

5.  Place in the middle rack of your oven and bake for 2 hours until the dough is golden brown. About 90 minutes into baking, check the internal temperature of the pie. It should be 165-degrees. You need to make sure it hits that in order to guarantee that the eggs have cooked. If you notice that your crust is getting too brown  by that time and still need to keep baking the pie, cover it with foil and continue baking. Once the internal temperature hits 165, you can remove the pie from the oven and let cool completely. This is served room temperature.

6.  Once the pie is cool to the touch (usually in 2-3 hours), slice into small wedges and serve.

And there you have it! This takes a little time to prepare, but is absolutely worth every effort you make. Your guests will love you  -  and may never leave your house again!

Good luck with your brackets and we'll meet back here again next week!

Keep on homegating!