My mom used to make something she called “Chicago Beef” sandwiches when I was growing up. It was a chuck roast that was simmered in the crock pot all day. Then served over crusty Italian rolls with melted cheese on top. It was one of my favorite dinners! I’d forgotten all about it until I saw it featured on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Googled recipes and came up with a ton. Evidently, most people refer to it as “Italian Beef”. I suppose it’s also known as Chicago Beef because the place that “put it on the map”, Al’s Beef, is in Chicago. Whatever you want to call it, it’s a great sandwich!

I knew I wanted to cook it in the dutch oven, and not the crock pot. While I love the crock pot, I think you get a better flavor from roasts from cooking in the oven. I’m sure it would be great prepared in a slow cooker, but I’d definitely deglaze the pan with the beef broth – then add that to the pot with the beef and peppers.  If you’re worried about it being spicy because of the peppers – don’t be! Pepperocinis are very mild peppers. They just have a great, zippy flavor. I love the addition of these to the beef! Totally make the sandwich in my opinion. I used provolone cheese, but mozzarella would be wonderful too.

It’s traditional to dunk the whole sandwich in the braising liquid before serving. But, I have “issues” with soggy bread. I think the sandwich has plenty of juiciness without any dunking. You could always serve a small dish of the jus on the side as well. I also topped my sandwich with some sliced banana peppers, just because I wanted a little extra crunch. They were a hit with everyone in the house, and an easy dinner that pretty much takes care of itself. Will definitely be on our menus in the future!

I can’t believe I’d never made egg salad prior to this. You think it’s something that your grandmother made, and it is, but for good reason! It’s a quick, inexpensive lunch or dinner. I’ve always been a huge fan of deviled eggs, but I never make them for just us. Egg salad is a wonderful way to get those flavors without all the work. Plus, it’s VERY open to adaptation. You could easily make it more healthy by using yogurt for some/all of the mayonnaise. I’m also really looking forward to playing around with the flavorings. I added a bit of curry powder for this batch – but tons of flavor combinations are possible. The sky is the limit! Next time I think I’ll be adding some chipotle peppers to the mix. Mmm, or some of my best friend’s mother’s pepper relish. I’m hoping to score another jar this year!

I served it on rye toast this go round. I wouldn’t suggest toasting the bread as much as I did. For something with a delicate texture ,like egg salad, you need a relatively soft bread. So, if you’re going to toast, heed my advice and tread lightly. It would probably be wonderful in a whole-wheat tortilla with some additional veggies – tomatoes and sprouts, perhaps? Or, there’s always the classic presentation on a bed of lettuce or greens. However you mix it up, or serve it – it’s sure to please. A definite classic that everyone needs in their recipe box!

How has this week flown by so quickly? It seems that now that cooler weather has arrived, and the days are getting shorter…there just aren’t enough hours in the day. On the day I made this dish, I was pooped (a preschooler and an infant have a tendency to do that to you). I was severely tempted to bag it, and call in take-out. But, I garnered the strength to make dinner. So glad I did!

Easy? Check. Quick? Check. And, delicious to boot! I love cooking Chinese take-out dishes at home. They come together pretty quickly, are (usually) relatively healthy, and pack a punch of flavor. This Kung Pao chicken definitely held up it’s end of the bargain. It’s not a dish I ordinarily order from the local Chinese joint, so I don’t have any base comparison, but everyone really enjoyed it. I changed a couple things around from Nikki’s recipe. I diddn’t have peanuts on hand, so I used cashews. Also, I added some Sriracha sauce instead of hot pepper flakes simply for the fact that I’m currently infatuated with the stuff. I think it added an extra depth of color to the stir-fry, which is always nice with simple dishes like this.  I had a couple of cans of water chestnuts lurking in the pantry, so I tossed some of those into the mix as well. A new favorite to add to the menu rotation for sure!

I love pastries of all kinds, and when I came across this recipe for cherry kolaches back in the summertime I knew I had to make them. I kept putting it off, weather was too hot to be baking, etc. One setback led to the other, and by the time I got around to actually making them I couldn’t find the magazine they were in. Finally found it in a stack upstairs yesterday, and made them. They were great!

My only experience with kolaches previous to this had been of the savory variety. When visiting my mother-in-law while she was living in Texas (they’re a favorite there), we got them for breakfast one day. A every-so-slightly sweet dough, filled with a meat of some kind, eggs, and cheese. Yum!

These are definitely much different. The yeasted dough is still slightly sweet, topped with a cherry topping, then baked. After cooling, a glaze is added to the top of the pastry. I wish I had waited a little longer to drizzle the glaze onto the kolaches. They were still warm, and the glaze got a bit runny. But, it was still delicious! They’d probably also be great with powdered sugar on top instead.