Beef Manhattans

I love to order beef manhattans when I am out at local restaurants and often wondered if I could try to make my own homemade version. Well I did and they are fabulous! You will not believe how flavorful these are, or how simple! Use store bought or homemade mashed potatoes and brown gravy.

Beef Manhattans

4 pound boneless beef chuck roast
1 stick butter
1 package dry Ranch dressing mix
1 package au jus gravy mix
2 cups homemade or jarred brown gravy
Prepared mashed potatoes
Texas Toast

Start by lining your slow cooker with a slow cooker liner. Place in the boneless beef chuck roast.

Place stick of butter on top of roast.

Sprinkle over package of dry Ranch dressing mix. Sprinkle over package of au jus gravy mix.

Place on lid and cook 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low.

After cooking, remove lid and shred meat using 2 forks.

Warm prepared brown gravy and prepared mashed potatoes.

Assemble the beef manhattans by placing 2 slices of Texas Toast on a plate. Top with shredded beef. Top with mashed potatoes and finish with brown gravy.

The Best Chicken Salad

This is the best chicken salad! Perfect on buttery croissants. I like a rotisserie chicken for this but also try roasting 2 large chicken breasts, with the bone in and the skin on, in the oven at 375 degrees for about 40 minutes. Before baking drizzle each with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and black pepper.

The Best Chicken Salad

3 cups cooked chopped chicken
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper
1 cup white grapes, halved
1 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup diced celery

In a large bowl place the prepared chicken.

In a medium bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream, fresh lemon juice, salt and black pepper until combined and smooth.

Add the prepared grapes, chopped pecans and diced celery to the prepared chicken and stir gently.

Pour over the dressing and stir gently. Taste for seasonings. Refrigerate. Serve.

CHEW THIS! Homemade Chicken Nuggets with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

Homemade Chicken Nuggets with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

Homemade Chicken Nuggets

The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, October 21st 2018 edition. By: Blaise Doubman

Chicken Nuggets are Dressed to Please!
Blaise Doubman

I love chicken nuggets and remember when I was about 12 years old winning a contest to see how many chicken nuggets I could eat! How many did I eat? I will not write about it here because I simply do not want to scare you but let me just say I ate away the competition! Ha! As I grew up and discovered what fast food chicken nuggets really were, not that edible, I decided to see if I could make my own! How hard could it be!? I tried using several cuts of chicken and types of chicken meat and decided that chicken breast was the easiest and tastiest.

When it came to the breading I tried several different “crumb” mixtures but decided I liked the simplicity and taste of the buttery RITZ cracker. When you start adding chicken seasoning, garlic, rosemary and additional kinds of peppers it really takes away from the flavors of the meat. I wanted something that reminded me of my childhood but was updated and at the same time very easy to prepare. Chicken breast, cut with kitchen shears instead of a knife, keeps the work clean and easier. I also prefer the taste of melted butter as a dredging instead of egg because after all, who doesn’t like butter? I really believe these may be the best chicken nuggets I have ever had and the homemade honey mustard dipping sauce that I share below really takes them over the top! Highly recommend that you try these!

Homemade Chicken Nuggets with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

You can replace the RITZ crackers in this recipe with regular saltine crackers, but I must warn you that the color and taste will be different. The nuggets will not be as golden, and the taste will not be as buttery. This is the perfect recipe for chicken to get into the kitchen and help! Just be careful and watchful of the sharp kitchen shears.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
3 sleeves Ritz crackers, crushed fine

Start by preheating your oven to 425 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick cooking spray.

Cut the chicken breasts into large bite-size pieces. I find that using sharp kitchen shears is the easiest method. Place the bite-size pieces into a bowl.

In a large bowl, pour in the melted butter. Stir in the salt and black pepper.

In another large bowl, pour in the finely crushed Ritz cracker crumbs.

Take a handful of the chicken pieces and dip them into the melted butter mixture. Be sure to coat the chicken well. Shake off the excess butter and place into the crushed RITZ crackers. Be sure the chicken is well coated in this mixture too, followed by shaking off the excess here as well. Place the now coated chicken bites onto the prepared baking sheet.

Continue to do this until all the chicken is coated and on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes, turning once halfway through cooking.

Remove and allow to rest for 15 minutes before serving.

Serve alongside the honey mustard dipping sauce.

To make the honey mustard dipping sauce simply whisk together ¼ cup honey with ¼ cup mayonnaise, ¼ cup Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon white vinegar and a pinch of black pepper. If you would like more sauce than what is prepared, this recipe can be doubled or tripled.

Ask and Answer: A lot of local people write to me and wonder what my favorite pizza place is in the area. I love pizza and hate to single any one pizza place out, but I would have to say the “Royal Feast” at Pizza King is hard to beat! I also really enjoy Mancino’s and 1000 Degree Pizza as well. I have fond childhood memories of Pizza King so that also plays into my enjoyment.

CHEW THIS! Baked Spaghetti

Baked Spaghetti

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The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, January 7th 2018 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

Baked Spaghetti is an Italian Classic
Blaise Doubman

If I had to pick my favorite food nationality it would have to be Italian. Although Chinese would have to play an important second role, as well as traditional American food. I love anything and everything Italian, from Ziti to Stuffed Shells and every single one of their desserts. Has anyone tried their lady finger and espresso soaked dessert known as “tiramisu”? Heavenly! Every time there is a celebration around here, and I just do not feel like cooking, which is rare, but it happens, I always pick a nice Italian restaurant. There is something in me that thinks I perhaps have some Italian roots, or maybe even an Italian background somewhere years and years in my background. Maybe I will try one of the ancestry websites and poke around some. Although, I am not really keen on the popular ancestry website where you send in a sample of your blood! I do not want my blood going to some big company that may get hacked or something later. And how is it not guaranteed that my blood will not be used years down the road for cloning purposes! Ha! Can you imagine two of me? My family and friends would not know what to do!

But in all honesty, Italian food makes me think of warmth and comfort, celebrations and togetherness. It may also have to do with the fact that my Grandpa Max and Grandma Deloris ate out quite a bit at Italian places when I was growing up, and I would tag along with them. Recently, when I found out that my cookbook was going to start being sold over at the Warm Glow Candle Outlet in Centerville, Indiana, I immediately wanted to celebrate with my family and friends. I had been working on a baked spaghetti recipe for awhile and decided to perfect it and serve it in celebration. I tinkered around for a while and came up with a recipe that is simple, easy, classic and flavorful! Next time you are thinking about what to make for a celebratory meal, I hope your mind drifts to this recipe and you try it with your family and friends! Feel free to experiment with your favorites types of cheeses and herbs.

Baked Spaghetti with Mozzarella and Parmesan

This dish can be made ahead, wrapped with aluminum foil and refrigerated for up to two days. Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to two days. Feel free to substitute different types of cheese for the Mozzarella and Parmesan, such as Ricotta. This is perfect served with a side salad and garlic bread.

16 oz spaghetti
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 pound ground beef
Salt, Pepper, Italian Seasonings
28 oz crushed tomatoes
½ cup basil, chopped
½ cup parsley, chopped
2 cups shredded Mozzarella
½ cup grated Parmesan

Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9×13-inch baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

Cook the spaghetti according to the package directions until al dente, drain and set aside. Be sure to boil the spaghetti in lots of boiling salted water. Also add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil to the boiling water. I do this sometimes to prevent the spaghetti from sticking together once the pasta is cooled.

In a large skillet, over medium heat, heat the olive oil for about one minute. Add the chopped onion and cook for about 4 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook until you can smell the warmth, which will take about 2 more minutes. Add the ground beef and season to your liking with the salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.

Cook the meat until fully cooked and no longer pink. Drain the mixture and then return to the skillet, still over medium heat. Add in the crushed tomatoes, chopped basil and chopped parsley until thickened and reduced, which will take about 12 minutes in total. You can taste the mixture at this point and add more seasonings if desired.

Toss this with the cooked spaghetti and pour into prepared baking dish.

Top the dish evenly with the Mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.

Place into the preheated oven and bake for 25 minutes. Remove and serve hot.

Ask and Answer: I have been getting a lot of messages about my favorite type of “quick biscuits”. I would have to say my favorite recipe would be on page 83 in my cookbook and calls for only 2 simple ingredients. Self-rising flour and heavy cream. You take the 2 ingredients, roll out and cut, place in preheated 425 degree oven and bake for 14 minutes. People will not believe that the biscuits are only 2 simple ingredients and you will have a new secret recipe!

Pasta Fagioli

Originally published on “Blaise the Baker” November 10th, 2017

We are entering cold weather season here in Indiana and nothing to me says “welcome cold weather” like a big bowl of warm and comforting soup! Pasta Fagioli – which basically means “pasta and beans” – is quickly becoming one of my favorite soups! It is hearty, warm, cooks up in no time and is only 4 ingredients! FOUR! Can you believe that? Print this out, save it, bookmark it, whatever you want to do – just keep this recipe and make it this weekend!

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Pasta Fagioli

1 jar “Ragu Chunky” pasta sauce with tomato, basil and garlic
2 cans (19 oz each) white kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 package (10 oz) frozen chopped spinach, thawed but not drained
16 oz ditalini pasta, cooked and drained
4 cups reserved pasta water
4 cups water

To prepare the spinach: microwave the frozen spinach in a microwave safe container for four minutes. Using a fork, cut up and separate. Do not drain the spinach.

To prepare the pasta: cook in a large amount of salted boiling water with a splash of olive oil added. Cook according to package directions.

In a large soup pot over medium heat, combine the pasta sauce, prepared kidney beans, prepared chopped spinach, pasta and reserved pasta water. Bring to a low boil, stirring occasionally.

Add in four cups of water and simmer, stirring occasionally. Salt and pepper to taste.

Serve hot. Store leftovers, covered, in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Enjoy!

Foolproof Omelet

Originally published on “Blaise the Baker” September 16th, 2017

My Grandma Deloris has been on an “omelet kick” at Glen Oaks Health Campus in New Castle, Indiana and it got me thinking about where the omelet plays a role in my life. It really does not. Gasp! I know – I know. I decided it was time to change that so I told Grandma my plans on developing my own foolproof recipe, went home and got to work.

Developing this recipe was really not as complicated as I had originally thought. Just a few simple steps and a couple of simple techniques and you have one giant foolproof omelet!

You can stuff your omelet with anything and everything you can imagine. I used shredded cheese in mine. Feel free to use green peppers and onions, sausage, ham or even turkey and green onion. The sky is really the limit here – reach for the stars!

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Foolproof Omelet

4 tablespoons butter
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup shredded cheese

Preheat a large 10-inch skillet over medium high heat for about a minute. Add in the butter and allow to melt evenly.

In a large bowl whisk together the large eggs with the salt and black pepper. Really whisk here – you want to incorporate a lot of air. Whisk, whisk, whisk.

Once the butter is bubbly and hot pour the whisked eggs directly into the center of the skillet and leave alone.

Watch closely but do not move the eggs.

Once your eggs resemble a giant yellow pancake – you will be able to tell the color and texture just by looking – add in your fillings to the center of the omelet.

If you are having trouble getting the “yellow pancake” outcome, use a rubber scrapper and gently pull on one side of the omelet, tilting the skillet down so the uncooked egg slides from the top to the bottom – therefore allowing it to cook.

Wait 20 seconds after adding your filling and then gently use a rubber scrapper to fold the omelet over onto itself. Be careful here of the fillings used.

Hold the omelet carefully with hot fingers and or rubber scrapper to drain out some of the fat from the skillet.

Place on plate and sprinkle with salt and black pepper.

Enjoy!

CHEW THIS! Picnic Chicken Salad

Picnic Chicken Salad

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The following “Chew This!” column has been reprinted from “The Courier-Times”, Sunday, August 20th 2017 edition. By: Blaise Doubman 

Chicken Salad is Perfect Picnic Food
Blaise Doubman

I find that some of the most perfect picnic weather days are those days that are towards the end of summer and the beginning of fall. The weather is not too hot, or sticky. Not too humid or overcast either. The days are getting shorter but there is still just enough daylight time to get what you want to get done accomplished. I find that from about the middle of August until the end of September to be the perfect time, in Indiana anyways, for an outdoor get-together, a reunion or a picnic. Just the word “picnic” gets me thinking about little cucumber and cream cheese sandwiches, fruit salads, lemonade, cold salads and icebox desserts. In my cookbook I have several recipes for cold salads, and more than one for chicken salad. Between my Mom, Darla, my Grandma Deloris and my Grandma Barbra, I am not sure who is the biggest chicken salad fan. Perhaps that is where I got my love for this classic cold salad?

When I was developing this recipe I wanted to make a chicken salad that had the things I like best inside. I am not that big of an onion fan, nor of boiled eggs or celery when it comes to my chicken salads. I prefer green grapes, toasted nuts and a combination of mayonnaise and sour cream. My friend and neighbor Jan Lines said that she preferred diced pineapple in her chicken salad, which does not sound bad! My Grandma Barbra always makes hers with a roasted chicken and my Mom usually makes hers with a mayonnaise combination. My Grandma Deloris uses salad dressing instead of mayonnaise and I have found that I like roasting chicken breasts in the oven to start off my salad. All in all, everybody makes a different salad and there are really no rules when it comes to making it, but the following is my recipe and my rules and I hope you will enjoy and serve this at your next picnic!

Picnic Chicken Salad

I like eating my chicken salad with saltine crackers but feel free to eat your chicken salad on bread, buns or even just a spoon! Tarragon brings out the flavor of chicken in cold salads so feel free to use about a rough teaspoon of the chopped herb in your salad. Also experiment with the type of grape and use red or purple if desired.

2 large chicken breasts, bone in, skin on
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons black pepper
¼ cup chopped walnuts
¼ cup chopped pecans
¾ cup mayonnaise
¼ cup sour cream
1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
½ cup green grapes, halved

Start by cooking the chicken breasts. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place chicken breasts skin side up on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Bake in preheated oven for exactly 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Remove the skin and cut the meat away from the bone. Chop into large chunks.

In a medium sized skillet, toast the chopped walnuts and chopped pecans over medium heat for about 3 minutes being careful not to burn the nuts.

In a medium sized bowl whisk together the mayonnaise, sour cream and sweet pickle relish.

In a large bowl combine the prepared chicken, toasted nuts and mayonnaise mixture. Carefully fold in the prepared green grapes. Taste. Salt and pepper to your tastes.

Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. Serve and keep chilled.

Ask and Answer: I received an email from someone asking if I had a recipe for egg salad. I wrote her back and she said the recipe was the best she had ever had. I thought since the theme of this week’s column was picnic – I would share it here! Start with 1 dozen boiled eggs. Mash eggs in a large bowl with a potato masher. Add in 2 teaspoons salt and 2 teaspoons black pepper. Add ¾ cup mayonnaise, 3 tablespoons yellow squirt mustard, 1 tablespoon spicy squirt mustard, 2 teaspoons pickle juice and 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar. Stir to combine. Sprinkle on top combination of smoked paprika, fine sea salt and garlic powder. Store and serve chilled.