Kicked Up Beef Dip Sandwiches


BJ hit another home run cooking dinner last night. He’s gotten REALLY good at choosing awesome recipes that pack a major flavor punch. I would argue that choosing a good recipe to prepare is an important key in being a good home cook. Not everyone has that ability. If you don’t choose a good recipe to follow the end result won’t be tasty no matter how well you foliow it. You can’t always trust every recipe you see, and some basic knowledge of flavors and combos that work well together will take you far in the kitchen. That’s where BJ is. He is a total amateur cook, but he knows what sounds good and he can follow directions. More often than not this translates into a successful dinner, which is exactly what we had last night.

The Food Network is almost always on the TV in our house. Especially right now. I’m not exactly watching it all day long or anything, but it’s our background noise. BJ’s grown pretty accustomed to it and even catches himself paying attention from time to time. That’s how he discovered this recipe and decided he wanted to give it a whirl. Ree Drummond calls them Drip Beef sandwiches but I’m not a fan of the “drip” part. Sounds kinda gross to me. So since this is my blog and I just totally gave her the credit for the yummy goodness, let’s call them Kicked Up Beef Dip sandwiches. They’re delicious and super easy to get on the table. Perfect for BJ. He seared a chuck roast and then cooked it low and slow for five hours in a Dutch Oven with beef stock, fresh rosemary and chopped pepperoncini, with their juice. Just four ingredients. Pretty amazing. He let them cook for five hours, then shredded the beef and piled it high in deli rolls. We didn’t top the sandwiches with caramelized onions like the recipe calls for, although I’m certain it would have taken it to a whole other level. These are so good you will definitely want to add them to your rotation. You can’t beat a four ingredient recipe that tastes like you spent a ton of time perfecting it. It absolutely hits the spot at the end of a busy day.


Kicked Up Beef Dip Sandwiches

One 4-pound chuck roast
Salt and black pepper
3 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 cups beef broth
2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
One 16-ounce jar chopped or sliced pepperoncini, juice and all
2 yellow onions, sliced
10 to 12 toasted, buttered deli rolls

  1. Sprinkle the chuck roast with salt and pepper.
  2. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter and the canola oil in a heavy pot over high heat. Sear both sides of the chuck roast until very browned, about 5 minutes in all. Pour in the beef broth and 1 cup water. Add the rosemary, and then pour in the pepperoncini with their juices. Now cover the pot and simmer until the meat is tender and falling apart, 4 to 5 hours.
  3. Meanwhile, heat a skillet over medium heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Add the onions and sauté until light golden brown. Set aside.
  4. Remove the roast from the pot and shred the meat completely using two forks. Return the meat to the cooking liquid and keep warm. To serve, slice wedges out of the tops of the deli rolls. Heap a generous portion of meat on each roll, and then spoon some of the cooking liquid over the meat. Top with a few peppers from the pot and plenty of caramelized onions. Top the sandwiches with the wedges of roll and serve.

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New Year, New Adventures

Happy New Year everybody! It’s out with the old and in with the new…new resolutions, new healthy habits, new hobbies. As we packed all of our Christmas decorations away in boxes and tucked them in the back of closets until next year, many of us daydreamed about what our lives will look like in 2015. We set goals and make lists, focusing on things we want to start doing in 2015, as well as things we hope we never do again. I love the new year. It’s the perfect time to start fresh and make every effort to be the person we want to be. My husband and I love to sit down together every January and talk about our goals. Something about saying them out loud seems to make them more likely to come to pass…maybe it’s the accountability it creates. I have a long list of things I’d like to accomplish in 2015. Some of them are things I hope to do like run another half marathon after our daughter is born in April. Other items are on my list out of complete necessity, like potty train my two year before the baby arrives and get my home organized and de-cluttered before baby gear covers every inch and corner of the house again. Lots to do and so little time…or energy…to do it! 🙂

Baby #2 will be an adventure for sure and has given us a lot to be excited about in 2015! What’s your new year adventure? For my younger sister, Chelsey, 2015 has already been a year of firsts. Like many do, Chelsey made it her goal to eat nutritious, fresh, home-cooked food. Don’t get me wrong, she has been eating home-cooked food forever…just not prepared by herself and in her own kitchen. Chelsey has never really had an interest in cooking. When I was growing up my mom and I would spend hours in the kitchen cooking and baking, while Chelsey usually only showed up to lick the cookie dough off the spoon and scrape the yummy leftover goodness out of the bottom of the bowl. That was the extent of her “cooking.” It probably doesn’t help that for a long time two out her three meals a day seemed to be Starbucks frappuccinos…but that’s a whole other conversation. 🙂


However, in the three short weeks that have passed in 2015, Chelsey has sent me more pictures of the yummy food she’s whipped up than she’s ever made in her entire 28 years put together. I’m so excited for her! Every night it’s something new and yummy. Her photos make this pregnant girl’s mouth water and I want to try everything she’s made!

Finally a few nights ago I got to try one of the very first dishes Chelsey’s ever cooked from scratch. Spicy Cauliflower Stir Fry from Ree Drummond’s blog, The Pioneer Woman. As soon as I saw the picture and read the ingredients I knew this was going to be one my husband and I would love. You can’t beat the umami flavors of a good stir fry or fried rice without the guilt! I have to admit, while I was painstakingly breaking apart the head of cauliflower into teeny tiny florets, I was kind of shocked Chelsey made it through the process without getting annoyed. The smaller the florets are the quicker they soften up while cooking and the better the whole dish will be. Trust me, it’s worth it. The only addition I made was toasting up a few tablespoons of sesame seeds and tossing them in at the last second. It added a nutty crunch that I loved.

Thank you, Chelsey, for introducing me to this super satisfying take-out fake-out. I’m so proud of all of your culinary feats so far this year and can’t wait to see what else you share with me!

cauliflower stir fry

Spicy Cauliflower Take-Out Fake-Out

1 whole head cauliflower
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 lime
2 green onions, sliced
1 tablespoon sriracha,plus more for deeper color and flavor if you wish
2-3 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

  1. Break up the cauliflower into large florets, then, using your hands, break into very small florets.
  2. Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium-high to high heat. Add the oil, then the cauliflower and garlic. Stir the cauliflower around the pan, allowing it to get very brown in some areas.
  3. Cook for 3 minutes, then turn heat to low. Add soy sauce, squeeze in the juice of the lime, and add most of the sliced green onion, reserving the rest for serving. Stir and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes more, then squeeze the hot sauce over the cauliflower. Stir until the hot sauce has been incorporated. Add a little more hot sauce if you want a deeper color and flavor. Toss in toasted sesame seeds and serve.

Buffalo Ranch Chicken Lasagna

It’s Super Bowl time! You have the perfect excuse to scroll through your pins on Pinterest and choose a few super unhealthy, extremely decadent dishes to serve to family and friends during the big game. Hooray!! Trust me, I’ve been there and done that. A few years ago when Pinterest first hit the scene I had a Super Bowl spread that you could gain five pounds just looking at. It was intense…and delicious. This year I was thinking about trying to replicate my mother-in-law’s hot wings, but I just can’t bring myself to go through the whole deep-frying ordeal. Such a mess. Then I remembered something I actually saw on Pinterest myself a few days ago- Buffalo Chicken Lasagna.


I read the recipe and it actually sounded pretty good…hot sauce, blue cheese, white cheddar, pasta…what’s not to love? I made some changes and additions and came up with what I think it a pretty amazing combo. I personally love dipping my hot wings in ranch dressing, not blue cheese, so I added some “ranchy” herbs and spices to the sauce to really drive home my favorite hot wing flavors. If you want to mix up your game this year, give this one a shot. It’s a crowd pleaser and it won’t leave your kitchen with a layer of oil coating your appliances and countertops. Or if you must, go for the gold and put all those pins of yours to good use. At least you have a good excuse. 🙂

photo copy

olive oil
2 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded
1 small onion, chopped
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
1 large carrot, grated
2 garlic cloves, minced
1, 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 , 12 oz. bottle Louisiana brand buffalo wing sauce 1 tablespoon dried parsley
1⁄2 teaspoon garlic powder
1⁄2 teaspoon onion powder
1⁄2 teaspoon dried dill weed
salt and pepper, to taste
no-­‐boil lasagna noodles
15 oz. ricotta cheese
4 oz. blue cheese
1⁄2 cup fresh parsley, minced
1 egg, lightly beaten
12 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded
8 oz. white cheddar cheese, shredded

  1. Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, celery and carrot and cook until softened. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute more.
  2. Add the can of diced tomatoes, bottle of wing sauce, dried parsley, dried dill, onion powder and garlic powder. Stir in chicken and bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to low, cooking for 20 minutes or up to an hour.
  3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl combine beaten egg, ricotta cheese and blue cheese. Mix well and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Remove lid from Dutch oven and check seasoning. Add salt and pepper if needed.
  5. Begin the lasagna layering process. Spread 1 cup sauce into a greased 13-­‐in. x 9-­‐in. baking dish. Layer with three noodles, 1-­‐1/2 cups sauce, 2/3 cup ricotta mixture, 1 cup mozzarella cheese, 2/3 cup cheddar cheese. Repeat this process 2 more times for a total of three layers.
  6. Bake, covered, at 350 degrees with 20 minutes. Uncover and continue to bake for 20 to 25 minutes more. Remove and let stand for 10 minutes before serving.